Indonesia Is Fighting About LGBT Rights Like It Never Has Before
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia will face legal challenges and prejudices not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Traditional mores disapprove of homosexuality and cross-dressing, which impacts public policy. For example, Indonesian same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for any of the legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples. The importance in Indonesia for social harmony leads to duties rather than rights to be emphasised, which means that human rights along with homosexual rights are very fragile. Yet, the LGBT community in Indonesia has steadily become more visible and politically active.
The national criminal code does not prohibit private, non-commercial homosexual relations between consenting adults. A national bill to criminalise homosexuality, along with cohabitation, adultery and the practice of witchcraft, failed to be enacted in 2003 and no subsequent bill has been reintroduced.
Indonesia allows its provincial governments to establish certain Islamic based laws, such as criminal sanctions for homosexuality . These local penalties exist in the Aceh province and Palembang city, where provincial bylaws against LGBT rights was passed in September 2014. The bylaws extend sharia (Islamic law) to non-Muslims, criminalising consensual same-sex sexual acts as well as all zina (sexual relations outside of marriage). This sharia-based criminal code permits as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for consensual same-sex sex acts, while zina violations carry a penalty of 100 lashes.
In Jakarta, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are legally labelled as “cacat” or mentally handicapped and are therefore not protected under the law. While Indonesia has allowed private and consensual sexual relations between persons of the same sex since 1993, it has a higher age of consent for same-sex relations than for heterosexual relations (17 for heterosexuals and 18 for homosexuals).
The Constitution does not explicitly address sexual orientation or gender identity. It does guarantee all citizens various legal rights, including equality before the law, equal opportunity, humane treatment in the workplace, religious freedom, freedom of opinion, peaceful assembly, and association. Such legal rights are all expressly limited by the laws designed to protect public order and religious morality .
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