The proposed “family resilience” bill suggests LGBTQI+ people pose a “threat to their families” and need to be “rehabilitated”


It can be very easy to get swept up in the progress being made globally. It might even be fair to say that if you assigned a numerical value to all the steps the LGBTQI+ community is taking forward, and deducted those steps taken back, we would still be in the positive… maybe. But the fact remains, as long as some of our community lives in danger and an enforced silence, none of us can truly be free. 

On the 19 February 2020, a draft “family resilience” bill was proposed by the House of Representatives of Indonesia. This bill identifies homosexuality as a deviance which poses a threat, and requires LGBTQI+ individuals and their families – by law – to report them. The proposed bill also aims to enforce social, psychological and medical “rehabilitation”.

To say this is a step back, is an understatement. To ignore the threat such a bill would pose to the LGBTQI+ community in Indonesia, reckless. 

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, comments: “The news from Indonesia is extremely concerning. The draft bill proposes to codify in law that LGBTQ+ people pose a threat to their families and need to be ‘rehabilitated’, changed, and removed – in essence requiring LGBTQ+ people by law to undergo so-called conversion therapy practices which are deemed by reputable psychiatric institutions, such as the World Psychiatric Association, as harmful and ineffective.

“This not only intensifies the mounting persecution and hate LGBTQ+ people already face, but also requires their families to report them, making LGBTQ+ people even more vulnerable and isolated.”

The timing of this coincides with “LGBTQI+ raids” reported by Amnesty International. In the wake of the horrifying trial and subsequent jailing of the Manchester-based rapist Reynhard Sinaga, the Mayor of Depok city demanded police raids take action, further demonstrating the dangerous position of LGBTQI+ people in Indonesia. 

Indonesia does not currently criminalise homosexuality. However, it holds two provinces – of Aceh and West Sumatra – which reside under sharia law, which out-laws same-sex relations.

The country has taken further steps to oppose the LGBTQI+ community. The national Pornography Act, which is vaguely worded and thus open to wide interpretation, is widely used to target LGBTQI+ people and, in 2018, a national law criminalising same-sex relations was proposed but has not yet been passed.

These developments are eerily reminiscent of the 2014 Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in Nigeria, which criminalises those who know of, or “abet” same-sex relationships, thus criminalising the friends, families and allies of LGBTQI+ people in Nigeria. 

Indonesia is swiftly becoming another in a long list of countries imposing stricter restrictions on same-sex relationships, including (but not limited to) Egypt, Uganda, Malaysia and Brunei. 

Things are being done, however. OutRight Action International is just one organisation who continue to work for LGBTQI+ people’s Human Rights. The stories of their struggles and their resilience are astounding yet remain unknown – or wilfully ignored – by those with the power to make change.

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