LGBT people face increasing discrimination in Indonesia Politicians stoking intolerance 'to obtain political gain from conservative groups' Ryan Dagur, Jakarta September 22, 2016 Indonesia IDAHO-T 2013 Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia/YouTube Concealing from family members that she was a lesbian was Lini’s best option. She was afraid her life would be in danger if they knew the truth. Lini, who did not want to give her full name, was born in Sumatra, Indonesia, and relocated to the capital Jakarta where she finished school. She thought living far from home and away from her family’s prying eyes was an advantage. "I only told my younger sister who is very understanding," the 30-year-old said. Although she joined Arus Pelangi – an NGO that defends lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights – she continues to hide her sexuality from her family because a major source of discrimination and violence against gay people happens at home. "For many gay people, it's the family that first orchestrates discrimination and violence," she said. Some of her friends were even pressured by their families to undergo therapy or forced to have sexual intercourse with people of the opposite sex in order to "fix" them. "It leaves a severe trauma and the victims soon run away," said Lini. Too much politics Hostility and discrimination against LGBT people, according to Dede Oetomo, founder of gay support group, Gaya Nusantara, is the result of ignorance about sexuality and gender diversity. "Plus a religious doctrine that does not pay attention to socio-cultural changes," he said. According to him, many politicians take advantage of sexual prejudice and genderism for political purposes, especially to gain support from conservative groups. Hostility towards LGBT people has intensified since January, after some high-level officials issued a statement which provoked hatred, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Muhammad Nasir, Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, prohibited the establishment of pro-LGBT groups on university campuses. The statement came after the Support Group and Research Center on Sexuality Studies was established at the University of Indonesia. Defense Minister, Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, said the gay rights movement was a "proxy war" waged by Western countries to weaken Indonesia. He said it was even more dangerous than a nuclear bomb. Zulkifly Hasan, chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly, also said homosexuality "does not fit with local culture and should be banned." More fear and aggression was stirred up when police in Bogor, West Java disclosed details of a child prostitution case on Aug. 30 in which a pimp had proffered children to same-sex pedophiles via Facebook. Hartoyo of the LGBT organization, Suara Kita, said that what happened in West Java was purely a crime against children. "However, since the culprit identified as LGBT, it became an attack, as if all LGBT [people] act like that," he said. "Our transgender friends are most vulnerable to mistreatment by the government or intolerant religious groups," said Lini, adding that it was especially hard for transgender prostitutes and street singers. The Youth Transgender Gallery, known as "Swara," in Jakarta, reported that out of 224 transgender teens it assisted, 70 percent were sex workers or street musicians who had taken up such professions to survive. "There are no other job opportunities for LGBT people," she said. Campaign for basic rights According to Lini, LGBT activism aims to end violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. "Our struggle is not to demand privileges, but to gain respect for our basic rights as set out in the country’s constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," she said. Since August, activist groups have visited media companies to discuss and garner support for their campaigns to respect sexual diversity. "We felt that the role of media is very important. Therefore, we dialogue with them," said Lini. According to Oetomo from Gaya Nusantara, there is a need to approach the issue through the House of Representatives as it is currently revising the Criminal Code. The goal is to remove a clause which criminalizes all sex outside of marriage. Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman, moral theology lecturer at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta, echoing the sentiments of Pope Francis, said LGBT rights should be respected. "LGBT people cannot be judged evil or in violation of decency" just because they are LGBT, he said. Pope Francis recently urged Catholics to seek forgiveness for the way they treat gay people and that the church teaches that gay people "should not be discriminated against."