March 25, 2010 
Amir Tejo

Indonesian Islamists Vow That Gay Conference Will Not Proceed

Pressure from Islamic organizations has finally forced the organizers of the 
planned International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex 
Association (ILGA) conference in Surabaya to cancel the event. 

"We have contacted the participants [and told them] that the congress is being 
cancelled," said Tan Oey, one of the organizing committee of ILGA's fourth 
Asian conference, which was to be held from today until Sunday. 

As for foreign participants who had already arrived in Indonesia, the committee 
would receive them as guests, Tan said. The organizers had said that 100 
participants from Asia were scheduled to attend the meeting. 

He said that those participants already in the country would still hold 
discussions on the topics that had been slated for debate at the congress. 

"We will just talk. It is not a congress," Tan said. 

The planned congress sparked widespread opposition from Islamic groups, 
especially in Surabaya, the capital of East Java, which is a strongholds for 
conservative religious groups. 

In the latest protest against the event, the Surabaya chapter of the Indonesian 
Muslim Students' Action Front (KAMMI) and the Islamic Student Union of 
Airlangga University in Surabaya rallied in front of the governor's office. 

"Surabaya is not a city of gays or lesbians. Reject the lesbian and gay 
conference in Surabaya or in any other city in Indonesia," said Agus 
Kusdiyanto, the chairman of KAMMI Surabaya. 

Agus said that homosexuality was not just a sexual disorder but a moral evil 
that must be eradicated. 

He said KAMMI asked the authorities not to grant a permit for that event in 
Surabaya or in any other cities. The group also called on the government not to 
provide space for gay and lesbian organizations in Indonesia. 

Twenty members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) of East Java, as 
well as the local chapters of Hizbut Tahrir and the Al-Irsyad Association, on 
Thursday went to the Mirama Mercure Hotel on Jalan Darmo Surabaya, where the 
meeting was due to be held, to ensure that it had been cancelled. 

"We guarantee that the meeting has been cancelled," said Windiarto, the general 
manager of the hotel. 

Windiarto said that the hotel management always reminded its clients to first 
seek police permission before holding events. 

He said that the downpayment for the booking of 10 rooms and the rental of the 
hotel's Grand Ballroom would be refunded by the hotel. 

Despite the assurances from the hotel and the cancellation announcement by the 
committee, the FPI said it remained concerned that the congress would be held 
somewhere else. 

"We have spies. FPI has 2,000 members in East Java. We asked them to remain 
vigilant even though the event was canceled in Surabaya," said Muhammad Dhofir, 
vice chairman of FPI in East Java.

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