Indonesian legislators consider anti-gay bill

Members of Indonesia’s House of Representatives are considering drafting an anti-homosexual bill, a legislator said, as debates rage over gay rights in the country. 

Indonesia has seen a rise in anti-gay sentiment, after the country’s science minister warned of pro-homosexual activity on campuses last month.

“We have discussed the issue with fellow legislators and agreed that such a bill should be a priority,” said Deding Ishak, deputy chairman of the parliament’s commission on religion.

“We are a nation that holds dear to religious and social values and activities that promote such deviant lifestyles should not be taken lightly,” he said.

He said legislators had received input from members of the public who demanded such legislation.

The Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars has weighed in on the issue, saying that Islam forbids homosexuality but that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people should not be discriminated against.

Indonesia’s Health Minister Nila Muluk said this week that homosexuality is “a mental health issue, but not a mental disorder.”

The Information Ministry this month asked messaging and social media services such as WhatsApp and Twitter to drop emojis – cartoon figures representing emotions or actions – featuring same-sex couples.

Science Minister Muhammad Nasir said last month that “LGBT groups must not be allowed to flourish” on university campuses.

Nasir later said homosexuals should be treated equally as citizens, but that they should be discreet and not make public displays of their affection.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said last week that President Joko Widodo should do more to ensure official tolerance of homosexuals in Indonesia.

 

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