Padang – National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) chairperson Ahmad Taufan Damanik says that the move by the West Sumatra (Sumbar) provincial government to wage war on the deviant sexual behaviour of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people does not violate Human Rights (HAM).
“Sumbar society has customary laws that cannot be separated from Islam. This has long been the case. If the public and the government there (Sumbar) make a regulation prohibiting LGBT activities because it’s not in line with customary norms, this is not something with is wrong or violates HAM”, said Damanik in Padang on Thursday February 14.
Damanik said that a policy would violate human rights if in its implementation there is violence, persecution or discrimination.
“Prohibiting behaviour is not a problem, but don’t restrict their basic rights, such as obtaining education, healthcare. It should also be understood that human rights are not absolute in character”, he said.
Damanik gave the example of a person who in asserting their rights interferes with the rights of another person, this could be opposed. “Demonstrating is a right, but if demonstrators damage property, this means they can be charged with a crime”, he said.
Likewise with enforcing the wearing of the jilbab (veil) for Muslim students in West Sumatra, this is not a violation. Because this is an issue related to education, regulating a member of the public so that they adhere to the norms embraced by Minangkabau [the West Java ethnic community] people.
“Let’s say I educate my child to be religious, where is the wrong in this. It would be different if I hit my child because my child isn’t wearing a jilbab, that would be a violation”, he said.
Damanik concedes that many activists from outside West Sumatra see what is being done by the West Sumatra provincial government as negative.
This is because people from outside West Sumatra don’t understand human rights from a Minangkabau perspective which is in accordance with their customs and in the end is a majority perspective.
Moreover he said, it would be impossible to enforce an international perspective of human rights on the people of West Sumatra. Indonesia’s regions have diverse cultures. These different perspectives should be allowed as long as there is no violence or discrimination.
According to Damanik, in such a situation West Sumatran leaders and social figures must also convey views and perspectives on human rights which are in accordance with customary norms, so that West Sumatra is not pressured to adopt outside perspectives.
“Aceh upholds its syariat [Islamic law]. Bali has customary police. All of this is in accordance with the respective regions. Sumbar figures must be united in a perspective which is conveyed nationally so that it is heard by activists in Jakarta”, said Damanik.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Ketua Komnas-HAM nilai komitmen Sumbar larang perilaku LGBT tidak langgar HAM”.]