One source told CNN that "in less than 18 months, being gay in Indonesia has gone from widely tolerated to just plain dangerous." Two gay men were found to have engaged in consensual sex and publicly caned as a punishment. This is not a secret or hidden purge either, the police in West Java province have open formed a task force. The leader of this state sanctioned hate group, Anton Charlatan, told Reuters that "I hope there are no followers in West Java, no gay or LGBT lifestyle or tradition. If there's anyone following it, they will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted in society."This is particularly shameful as there is no legal prohibition on being gay or LGBTQ+ in Indonesia.
And alas University in Western Sumatra has begun requiring prospective students to declare on a form that they are not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender before applying and enrolling at the institution. Although the form was removed from the website the discrimination was not removed from the policies of the university. "If a student doesn't want to sign the form, there's no need to register," a University official, told local site Padangkita.com. Indonesia's Minister of Higher Education, Muhammad Nasir has used social media to proclaim that he sees no place for LGBTQ+ groups on campuses.
The nation once prided itself on being a moderate and tolerant polity but has recently taken a turn towards extremism. The laws used by the police int he world's 4th most populous country are very broad and based on pornography, not specifically LGBTQ identity. In a raid recently over 150 men were arrested and their identities shared publicly. This public shaming seems similar to that used in Chechnya where family members are encouraged to attack and kill their LGBTQ+ relatives.
Without the United States taking the lead in pro LGBTQ foreign policy times are very difficult for persecuted LGBTQ populations and the future may get worse before it gets better. As always, we encourage our readers to stay safe, be smart and reach out if we can help or just listen