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LGBT becomes 'political hot potato' as lawmakers push to criminalise same-sex relations

Republika - January 21, 2018

Dadang Kurnia, Bambang Noroyono – The sensitive LGBT issue has become a political hot potato following a statement by People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Zulkifli Hasan.

Zulkifli claimed that there are five political parties (factions) in the House of Representatives (DPR) that do not have a problem with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community flowering in Indonesia.

The general chairperson of the National Mandate Party (PAN) however declined to cite the names of the political parties whose factions allegedly support LGBT.

He made the statement, which has caused other DPR members to get all steamed up, when speaking to branch members of Aisyiyah – the women's wing of the Islamic mass organisation Muhammadiyah – at the Muhammadiyah University campus in Surabaya on Saturday January 20.

This situation, he said, shows that there are still political disparities in the country. This has been demonstrated by the majority of society being in conflict with the political parties or members of the DPR, who should represent the voices of the ordinary people.

Following the speech, journalists tried to delve deeper in to the statement but Zulkifli was reluctant to answer. During a doorstop interview he gave no reply on the LGBT issue.

The statement has also gone viral on social media with many becoming furious over Zulkifli's remarks. Others admitted that they were not surprised by the statement. "I've already said so, right? There are many who support [LGBT] in the DPR", tweeted former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD.

DPR Commission III member T. Taufiqulhadi from the National Democrat Party (Nasdem) faction denied that there five political party factions in the house that supported LGBT rights during deliberations on the Draft Criminal Code (RUU KUHP).

"All of the revisions to the RUU KUHP have been discussed. The individual factions however will only be declaring their positions on January 28", said the RUU KUHP Working Committee (Panja) and Drafting Committee (Timus) member on Saturday.

The RUU KUHP has been in the hands of the drafting committee for the last few months. Taufiqulhadi explained that following this, the draft will be taken to the KUHP working committee on January 28. If all the factions in the working committee agree then it will be taken before a full plenary session of the DPR and then enacted.

In relation to the LGBT issue, he continued, the drafting committee agreed to later take the matter before the working committee. It is at the working committee that the positions of the individual factions on the LGBT issue in the RUU KUHP will be seen. "So, the view that there are five factions that already support LGBT is not true", Taufiqulhadi explained.

So far, the issue that has almost been agreed upon by all the factions is that homosexual practices will become a criminal offence if they are committed against a minor, that is against someone who is 18 years or younger. Criminal provisions will also apply if violence is involved.

It will also be a criminal office to disseminate such activities by video. Public demonstrations in support of LGBT such as those that occur in the West, with people of the same sex kissing in public, will also be criminalised.

PPP criticisms

The Islamic based United Development Party (PPP) has called on the factions in the DPR not to let the LGBT issue become a political commodity for image building.

PPP Secretary General Arsul Sani explained that party members, particularly those with an Islamic mass base, will be working concretely in the parliament to oppose same-sex marriage and the legalisation of LGBT.

Arsul's remarks were in response to Zulkifli's statement about the RUU KUHP deliberations related to LGBT. Arsul, who is also a member of the DPR's Commission III, refuted Zulkifli's remarks.

Arsul instead questioned the consistency of the PAN faction in the DPR, which has not taken part in the discussions on the LGBT and same-sex marriage articles in the RUU KUHP. Between Monday (15/1) and Thursday (18/1) the factions in the DPR did indeed discuss the LGBT issue and same-sex marriage during RUU KUHP working committee meetings at the Commission III legal affairs offices.

During the discussions, out of the 10 factions in parliament only eight were present. The eight factions, said Arsul, were the PPP, Nasdem, the Golkar Party, the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Democrat Party and the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

"All (the factions) present agreed that LGBT [should be] a criminal act. The factions that came agreed to define LGBT as a criminal act", said Arsul.

The fact is, he added, PAN and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) were not present during the discussions on LGBT. As a result, the other eight factions still do not know the political position of these two parties on the issue of LGBT and same-sex marriage.

Arsul explained that the discussions on LGBT pertained to the RUU KUHP Book II, which contains articles on criminal provisions. During the discussions the factions that were present agreed to categorise LGBT as an obscene act (perbuatan cabul). In the initial conceptual discussions with the government, said Arsul, obscene acts under LGBT was only to apply to those under the age of 18 or minors.

Two factions however, said Arsul, the PPP and Islamic based PKS requested that the definition of LGBT as an obscene act be broadened. In the end, a new paragraph was added to the RUU KUHP Book II which clarified that LGBT acts are deemed to be obscene for those who are 18 years or older or adults.

The punishment, explained Arsul remained the same, nine years in jail. This sentence would be applied to perpetrators who committed obscene LGBT acts with violence or the threat of violence, in a public place or which were published. The PPP however, explained Arsul, wanted to broaden this still further.

The faction from the party with the symbol of the kiblah [the direction which Muslims turn to pray] wanted obscene LGBT acts to be categorised in the same way as acts covered under the articles on adultery (zina). This was supported by the PKS faction and the six other factions that were present at the working committee. PAN and Hanura were not present.

PKS strongly opposes LGBT

The chairperson of the PKS faction in the DPR, Jazuli Juwaini, asserted that his party is not one of those that cited by Zulkifli as supporting LGBT acts. He has instructed all party members to oversea the deliberations on the RUU KUHP to ensure that LGBT is criminalised.

"I confirm that it's impossible. We are in fact fighting for (LGBT) to be prohibited under the KUHP", asserted Jazuli on Saturday January 20.

Jazuli explained that as the head of the PKS faction, he has instructed all party members on the DPR's Commission III and the RUU KUHP working committee to oversee the issue in a serious manner. He repeated that LGBT must be prohibited under the KUHP.

"Because LGBT conflicts with the [state ideology of] Pancasila, with all religious teachings, with eastern traditions and with the goals of the law on national education. This is non-negotiable for the PKS faction", he said.

Because of this therefore, he is calling on all parties to be solid in safeguarding all religious teachings that are acknowledged in Indonesia. He also called on all parties to safeguard the values of Pancasila.

Surprised

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin claims that he was surprised to hear the MPR speaker's statement. Moreover, he said, no religion tolerates any form of LGBT.

"I was very surprised by the reports (that five factions support LGBT). LGBT is something that is not tolerated in any way by any religion, let alone the religion of Islam", said Lukman at the Muhammadiyah University campus in Surabaya on Saturday January 20.

Nevertheless, the minister was reluctant to comment at length on the claim that there are five factions in the DPR that support LGBT. "So please go ask those concerned", said Lukman.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was Bola Panas 'Lima Parpol Pendukung' LGBT.]

Source: http://nasional.republika.co.id/berita/nasional/news-analysis/18/01/21/p2va4y440-bola-panas-lima-parpol-pendukung-lgbt.

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