Gay Indonesia News & Reports 2011

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1 Transgendered group wants no violence 2/11

2 Jakarta’s Working Ladyboys 3/11

3 Anti-Gay Stigma Hampering HIV Treatment 3/11

4 The Yogyakarta comic… an educational tool for LGBTIQ youth 4/11

5 The Courage Unfolds Campaign 5/11

5a A FSRN series on gay rights, discrimination and religion 5/11

5b Silver lining for gay and lesbians 5/11

6 Indonesian LGBT groups march to commemorate IDAHO 5/11

7 Religious authorities in Aceh "confused" 8/11

8 Indonesian province separates lesbians after fake marriage 8/11

9 Q! Film Festival returns to Jakarta and 5 other cities 9/11

9a Transgender couples surrounded by fear and persecution 10/11

10 Pukaar: 75th issue published 10/11

11 Let’s be queer without fear: Nov 9 – 13 10/11

12 Govt Campaign Aims to Tackle Ignorance About HIV/AIDS 11/11

13 Indonesia’s Gay Community Hails First Clinic 11/11

14 View Point: Sexualities: The straight and very, very narrow 11/11

February 23, 2011 – The Jakarta Post

Transgendered group wants no violence from officers

Andreas D. Arditya and Hans David Tampubolon, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Fed up with what they term as inhumane treatment from the city’s public order officers, a group for transgendered people have urged the city to stop using violence against them. During a meeting with the Jakarta Public Order Agency head Efendy Anas, representatives of the Indonesian Transgendered People Communications Forum lashed out against violence wreaked against them which they said bordered on a violation of basic human rights. “We’re holding talks on the arrests and raids against transgendered people that often involve violence,” forum chairperson Yulianus Rettoblaut said.

Yulianus, who is also known as Mamie Yulie, said that the forum received several complaints from transgendered people alleging violence at the hands of public order officers. Yulianus also questioned the legality of some of the raids directed at transgendered people in the city. “Many times the officers did not show us proper documents or they were in plainclothes. It was therefore easy for us to doubt the legitimacy of their actions,” he said. Yulianus said some forum members did frequent the city’s red light districts or were involved in prostitution, which would justify a raid.

Among the red light districts were Taman Lawang in Central Jakarta, Prapanca and Setiabudi in South Jakarta, Jatinegara in East Jakarta and the Coca Cola junction in North Jakarta. Another forum member, Seruni, not his real name, denied that all trangendered people gathering in red-light areas were prostitutes. “They were probably just socializing,” he said, adding that some might have gathered in disreputable areas for a good cause. “Our group often visit those places to campaign for AIDS or safe sex,” he said.

Seruni said he was a victim of violence inflicted by public order officers, alleging that he was injured during a raid earlier this month while campaigning to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. The forum claimed it presently had more than 4,000 members and more than seven million members across Indonesia. In meeting with the Public Order Agency, the forum also wanted the city to provide transgendered people with a space where they could socialize with one another and engage in more productive enterprises instead of simply roaming the streets at night, he said.

On the forum’s allegations, Effendi Anas said that public order officers would use less violence when conducting raids. “We will have more discussions with transgendered groups and experts to arrive at a win-win solution to this problem,” Effendi said. Efendi, however, said that most of the time the hands of public orders officers were tied and they had to follow orders in violently cracking down on transgendered people. “Sometimes we have to be tough on them to be taken seriously,” he said.

Several transgendered individuals have died in public order raids. In 2008, the Central Jakarta Public Order Agency was accused violence that lead to the death of a transvestite in Taman Lawang. The transvestite died after leaping into Ciliwung River to flee hail of stones thrown by public order officers. On a separate compound for transgendered people, activist Siti Musdah Mulia told The Jakarta Post that the city administration should not support any policy that would discriminate against citizens based on their gender, sexual orientation or religious preferences, among other things “I think that the city government’s policy has so far discriminated against transgendered people. If the city government wants to build a compound for transvestites as a way to deal with prostitution, this would constitutes discrimination, too,” she said.

March 16, 2011 – The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta’s Working Ladyboys

by Ade Mardiyati
It is a few minutes past eight in the evening on Jalan Blora in Central Jakarta and nightlife revelers are starting to trickle onto the street, still wet and muddy from the downpour earlier in the afternoon. A piercingly loud dangdut tune pours out of one of the street’s shabby clubs, where women in tight, brightly colored outfits stand and strut by the front doors.

Just a few meters from the club, some 25 people wearing sarongs and peci , the traditional Muslim cap, sit on the floor inside a 3-meter by 10-meter vacant kiosk, chanting Islamic prayers led by a cleric. More than half are transvestites who make ends meet as sex workers in Taman Lawang, a nearby red-light district famous for its ladyboys. On this night, the prayers are dedicated to Faisal Harahap, also known as Shakira, a transvestite who was shot to death by two unidentified men during a robbery gone awry in Taman Lawang on March 10.

Just outside the kiosk, 25-year-old Thalia Lopess sits on a wooden bench with some fellow ladyboys chatting and, at times, listening to the prayers. “I don’t want to go in. Don’t ask me why. I just don’t want to,” he says. Thalia was a roommate of Shakira ‘s and knew him well. Thalia, who’s birth name is Eko Chandra, has been working as a prostitute in Taman Lawang for four years. At the age of 13, the eldest of four left his hometown in Medan, North Sumatra, and has since lost touch with his family. “I didn’t want to see my family, especially my mother, get hurt by the fact that I am someone with this sexual orientation,” he says. “I decided to cut off all communication because I love them. I don’t want to be a burden for them.”

With the help of a mama-san, or madam, Thalia got a job as a prostitute in Malaysia and worked there for six years. “I loved working in Malaysia because people were less hypocritical than in Indonesia,” says Thalia, whose adopted name was inspired by a famous Mexican actress . “Transvestites could be found 24 hours a day because there were always clients. Here, people wait until it gets dark to see us because they don’t want to be seen by others.”

Thalia says that, like most transvestites, his typical working day starts very late, often at midnight. When he finishes work around four hours later, he goes to bed and then wakes up for lunch at 3 p.m. before going back to sleep until it is time to get ready for work. Thalia is also the Jakarta leader of Organisasi Perubahan Sosial Indonesia (Social Change Organization Indonesia), a local group that works to promote the protection and rights of sex workers in Indonesia. The organization, he says, is part of a large international network made up of similar groups. “I just got back from a meeting in Bangkok,” he says.

As a sex worker, Thalia says he earns about Rp 500,000 ($57) on a busy night and about Rp 100,000 when it is quiet. “There are more clients on weekends and during school holidays,” he says. “Some of my clients are high school kids and university students.” Thalia said his rates were based upon the “different types of the clients,” meaning how affluent they appear. “Students pay the least because I know they are still financially supported by their parents. Meanwhile, people who ride motorbikes pay less than those who drive cars,” he says. “For those with cars, I will charge more to a person driving a BMW or Volvo than somebody driving, say, an old Kijang van.”

He says he charges foreigners three times higher than his base rate, simply because they earn a lot of money here. “My English is very limited but I guess ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and ‘enough’ is enough,” he says with a laugh. “I prefer bule clients because, apart from paying a lot more, they are more understanding. When they know I feel tired, they will stop and not be pissed off. And still be willing to pay.”

Read article

March 19, 2011 – CARE2 Make A Difference

Anti-Gay Stigma Hampering HIV Treatment in Indonesia Experts Warn

by: Steve Williams
Experts warn that health workers’ reluctance to treat LGBT people is hampering efforts to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, putting lives in danger and failing high risk groups.

From Jakarta Globe:
Rohana Manggala, head of the Jakarta branch of the Commission on HIV/AIDS Prevention (KPA), said on Thursday that health facilities in the capital needed to be more inclusive. "Generally, health services for HIV/AIDS tests and treatment is getting better, but we have to admit there are still many health workers who attach strong stigma to certain groups," she said.

Tono Purnama Muhammad, national coordinator for a gay and transsexual network, said many of his group’s members were reluctant to seek health services because of the stigma. "Most health facilities in Jakarta provide health services for sexually transmitted infections and voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS, but only a few have proper understanding about gays, bisexuals and transgendered people," he said. "As a result, many people from this community are reluctant to have themselves checked because they don’t want to be judged." To remedy this problem, government officials are working closely with HIV/AIDS prevention groups to draft policies designed to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people access services more freely.

The program will also include sensitivity training for community health center workers across Jakarta’s five municipalities. Relatively few men in Asia identify as gay due to societal norms. Men that do have sex with other men are more likely to engage in brief high risk encounters and are, in turn, less likely to seek treatment for infection. But when they do, it is imperative that health workers do not turn them away or act in a way that discourages them seeking further assistance.

Estimates published on HIV/AIDS prevention charity website shows that there are about 314,000 people living with HIV in Indonesia, which, it notes, has the fastest growing epidemic in Asia. If left unchecked, those figures are set to more than double by 2014. You can read more here.

01 April 2011 – ILGA Asia

The Yogyakarta comic as an innovative educational tool for LGBTIQ youth

Indonesia – On 29 October 2010, Institut Pelangi Perempuan, the Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center, launched the Yogyakarta Principles comic strip in Jakarta. This unconventional initiative taken to disseminate a human rights tool to young people raised our curiosity….. Kamilia is a young feminist and lesbian activist, in her late 20s. She founded Institut Pelangi Perempuan (Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center) in 2006 and is currently the Executive Director of the organization. In January 2008, she was elected as a Board Member of ILGA Asia to represent youth LGBTIQ of Asia. She was elected as “LGBT People to Watch 2010” by, the biggest LGBTIQ website in Asia.

Interview of Kamilia by Patricia Curzi

How did you and your organization have the idea to illustrate the Yogyakarta Principles using a comic strip?
In our organization we work a lot with young LGBTIQ people; and we believe that it is important for them to know their rights, to understand and implement the principles of Yogyakarta. We have asked some youth if they knew about the principles and how easy they were to understand. Most of them replied that the principles are too difficult; the human rights language is too complicated, and the principles are laid out in a very legal language. It was important for us to spread the information, and we started thinking of a way to make the principles more accessible to our youth in Indonesia. Our experience is that not many young people are interested in human rights, and maybe this is due to the difficult and technical language used. We started by creating and compiling true stories in a comic that would be easier for them to understand and that would use pictures as a learning tool. It is important to use a communication tool appropriate for the message you wish to convey and the target group you wish to reach.

Which was the most difficult principle to illustrate and why?
We did not illustrate all the 29 principles; we just selected several principles that are related to the life of young LGBTIQ people, such as the right to education, the right to equality and non discrimination or the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Maybe in the future we could extend the project and illustrate all 29 principles.

Don’t you think that a communication tool usually used for entertainment will reduce the powerful message contained in the 29 principles?
Not at all! Our motto in our organization is “EDUFUNTAIMENT”: Education, Fun, Entertainment. Most of the time we use entertainment and fun in our work as well as creating informal fun space like sports club (badminton and boxing club) as support groups. We use pop, theatre, drag king and drag queen shows, traditional and modern dances but we never forget the message we want to pass. Using entertainment is helpful to send the message to our target group, because we would like to try more “pop” strategy for young LGBTIQ empowerment to change traditional strategy of activism. We are mostly young people, and our experience is that it is difficult to join long discussions or seminars. It is important to do campaign of LGBTIQ rights, so EDUFUNTAINMENT is a great educational tool. So far we are successful. We also have Anak Pelangi club. The club is an art and culture performance club for LGBTIQ people, where they are trained for performing campaigns on LGBTIQ rights.

How did your organization use the Yogyakarta Principles comic strip so far?
We introduced the comic in different cities in Indonesia, and the launch itself happened in different cities in Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta. With those launch events we again used art and performance: dances, pop, theatre, drag king and drag queen shows. Interestingly enough, a young lesbian community in the city in Bandung is now willing to establish organizations for young LBT women. This is proof that we managed to build confidence among young people. We have also spread the Yogyakarta comic to other human rights activists and to progressive and moderate religious groups who support LGBTIQ groups. During our launch in several cities we worked together with the local human rights groups as the anticipation effort for advocacy support of the threat and attack from fundamentalist groups on our event. We found out that not many human rights activists are aware of the Yogyakarta Principles, so it was also a process of introducing the Yogyakarta Principles to them. To our surprise, we received various proposals from the international network to have the comic translated in their local language and to use the comic locally to organize the work for young LGBTIQ people in their countries. We received requests from activists in Brazil, Argentina, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, Japan and Pakistan. We also promoted the comic at the UN level by presenting it at an ILGA panel on the need to improve access to education and work for LGBTIQ people on 55th Commission on the Status of Women meeting.

Now that you are into innovation and artistic initiatives, any plans to prepare a film based on the comic?
Actually, yes! It is our big dream at the moment: why not have another educational tool on LGBTIQ rights using a video campaign? We are now in the ICT era (Information, Communication, Technology); we can upload a film on Youtube and spread it via internet and reach activists throughout the world. We definitely should use more ICT tools to reach our goals!

You can read the electronic comic of Yogyakarta Principles in English version on our website

Organisations are encouraged to use the comic and adapt it to their local realities and language, provided that credit is given to Institut Pelangi Perempuan. A letter of agreement needs to be signed. Interested? Please send a message to

May 17, 2011 – IGLHRC

The Courage Unfolds Campaign

The Courage Unfolds Campaign calls for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to be protected by law, respected by society, and accepted by family. It is a call for the use of the Yogyakarta Principles as a tool to ensure the respect, protection and promotion by governments of the human rights of all people – including LGBT people. This set of international legal principles addresses the application of international law to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

To achieve this goal, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is asking activists, LGBT groups, human rights defenders, and concerned citizens to join the campaign. As central to this campaign, IGLHRC’s Asia Program has produced a documentary film – Courage Unfolds – highlighting the issues faced by LGBT people in Asia and how the Yogyakarta Principles are a relevant and effective tool that LGBT activists can use in their advocacy for human rights.

Learn: Learn more about the Yogyakarta Principles and LGBT activism in Asia by watching the Courage Unfolds documentary

Share: Tell your friends and community about this Campaign and how they can join you. Share your actions with us and others on IGLHRC’s Courage Unfolds Map.

Act: Screen Courage Unfolds, hold a rally, a training or a community event, write about using the Yogyakarta Principles, or petition your government to address violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

19 May 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

A FSRN series on gay rights, discrimination and religion
Audio: LGBTI rights and religion, a series from Indonesia, Uganda + Kenya

Source: Free Speech Radio News
In Indonesia, homosexuality is not outlawed but the Indonesian Ulemna Council has declared it evil or haram. And many mosques and Islamic schools in Indonesia discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims. But in a quiet alley in the ancient Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Mariyani, a 50-year-old transgender hairdresser, has turned part of her salon into an Islamic school. FSRN’s Rebecca Henschke went to meet Mariyani on her birthday.

In Kenya the country’s new constitution, approved last summer, ensures the rights of minority groups and criminalizes discrimination based on sex, age, religion, race, and sexual orientation among others. But many people continue to be openly discriminated against because of their sexual preferences or sexual orientation and many government officials, religious leaders and academics openly condemn homosexuality. FSRN’s Tanya Castle filed this report.

Uganda’s record on human rights, and LGBT rights in particular, has attracted a lot of criticism at home and overseas. Under Ugandan law, committing what are described as homosexual acts is illegal and the penalty can be a life sentence. For more, we turned to Kasha Jacqueline founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an LGBT rights organization in Kampala

May 21,2011 – Jakarta Post

Silver lining for gay and lesbians

by Prodita Sabarini – The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Fady, 29, limits his imagination to the future of his relationship with his boyfriend. A closet homosexual, except to a few very close friends, he keeps his sexual orientation a secret. “I have a lot of things to consider if I come out to people outside my [circle] of close friends. I don’t have enough energy and time to go through that,” he said. For him and his boyfriend, what they have is the present. He said he would be happy enough if he could be with his partner for the next year. “We don’t think about how it would be when we’re old and etc,” he said.

In the country’s strong heterosexist culture, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people are either hidden or marginalized. Most LGBT people in Indonesia face rejection from families when they “come out” and are discriminated against by the system. But, the country’s LGBT and liberal human rights groups are slowly working to fight the stigma of a lewd, mentally disordered lot attached to the LGBT community. One of the country’s gay rights organizations, OurVoice, is campaigning to fight homophobia in conjunction with the International Day of Anti-Homophobia that falls on May 17. May 17 has been commemorated as the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) since 1996, after a conference on gay rights in Montreal, Canada.

The date, May 17, was chosen as the symbolic day, as it was on this date the World Health Organization scrapped homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. The American Psychiatric Association stated in 1975 that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. In 2006, the Yogyakarta Principle, a guideline of International human rights law in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation was signed. Despite that, persecution against LGBT people still takes place around the world. According to OurVoice, there are more than 70 countries that criminalize a person based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In Indonesia, regional bylaws in South and West Sumatra criminalize homosexuals and the 2008 pornography law states that homosexuality is a deviant behavior despite the Health Ministry’s declaration in 1993 that homosexuality is no longer a mental disorder/disease in their Diagnostic Classification on Mental Disorder Guidelines (PPDGJ).

Fady said he did not know that such a day commemorating the rights for LGBT people existed. He said it was a good thing that a group of people in the world was concerned for LGBT people, although it didn’t affect him much, he added, as he kept his relationship with his partner a secret. But for Ramy, a 20-year-old lesbian, that day is very important. While Fady keeps his sexual orientation and relationship a secret, not daring to imagine the future, Ramy said she would make sure to follow her own life path. “For the next couple of years, I will make sure I will have a relationship, like it or not,” she said. “I will be true to myself and not undermine my true self to please society,” she said.

Ramy, who chose not to disclose her last name, said her family learned of her attraction to the same sex in mid-2009. “My brother suspected that I liked women. I’m a tomboy, and he started to be suspicious. He followed me and found me with my girlfriend and took me home,” she said. Her family interrogated her, asking why she couldn’t be “normal”. “I just told them that I was just following my heart; that I desired a woman,” she said. Ramy said her family took her to an Islamic boarding school that treats “drug addicts and stressed out youth”, where she had to bathe in water mixed with seven kinds of flowers in an attempt to “cure” her.

After two months at the boarding school, Ramy, who lives with her mother, never brought her partner to her parent’s house again. “My wish in the future is that my family can have an open mind and not be as rigid as now,” she said. Ramy said that, among her friends and colleagues, she does not hide her homosexuality. “The first time they found out they were surprised, but later they said, ‘It’s her life,’” she said. “While my friends at work, luckily they are people who mind their own business,” she added. When her colleagues found out, Ramy said that usually the first thing they would say was, “How did that happen? Since when?” “My friends were surprised at first but later got used to it, while my colleagues at work mind their own business,” she said.

Strong unity: Youths take part in a rally near the presidential house in Tegucigalpa on International Day Against Homophobia on May 17. Reuters/Edgard GarridoStrong unity: Youths take part in a rally near the presidential house in Tegucigalpa on International Day Against Homophobia on May 17. Reuters/Edgard Garrido In urban areas, public knowledge, awareness and acceptance of homosexuality have increased compared to 10 years ago, general secretary of OurVoice, Hartoyo, said. Films with themes of homosexuality have been well-accepted, such as Nia Dinata’s Arisan! (Savings Gathering). A gay-themed film festival, Q Film Festival, also has been successfully running for almost 10 years.

Read article

25 May 2011 – Fridae

Indonesian LGBT groups march in Jakarta to commemorate IDAHO

by Sylvia Tan
Over 50 LGBT activists and their allies held a rally in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta to call for equality and protection of the country’s LGBT citizens. Over 50 LGBT activists and their allies held a rally on Saturday along Jalan Bundaran HI, in the city centre of Jakarta where the well-known Hotel Indonesia Roundabout is located. The event was organised by the Indonesian LGBTIQ Forum, a coalition of groups which includes the Jakarta-based groups: Ardhanary Institute, Arus Pelangi, Institut Pelangi Perempuan, Q-munity, Forum Komunikasi Waria Indonesia, Yayasan Srikandi Sejati, GWL-Ina, Perempuan Mahardhika, Our Voice and Her Lounge.

In a statement issued in Indonesian in conjunction with International Day against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO), the theme of the rally "Citizen in Diversity" seeks equality and protection of the country’s LGBT citizens. Organisers highlighted that although the country’s Post-Suharto Reformasi (reformation) movement of 1998 had opened the door for citizens to freely organise and express their political and social beliefs, LGBTs in Indonesia have not only not enjoyed the same freedoms but are subject to discrimination and violence. Agustine Oke, director of Ardhanary Institute – a lesbian, bisexual, and transgender research and advocacy centre, told Fridae: “After the Surabaya ILGA conference incident, we struggled in silence for a year. But this year, we decided to become visible again, and publicly campaign for LGBTIQ rights in Indonesia.”

The statement cited recent cases of violence carried out by Islamic extremist groups that forced the cancellation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association conference in Surabaya in January 2010 and raided a Q Film Festival event. On March 10 this year, Faisal Harahap aka Shakira, who was described in the Indonesian media as a transvestite and LGBT activist died after being shot by an unknown person in Taman Lawang, Central Jakarta. Two other transvestites were injured in the same case that was described in the media as “an armed robbery gone bad.”

The Indonesian LGBTIQ Forum also called on the government to provide guarantees for freedom of association and movement just like any other citizen; accord LGBTs the same rights to education, health and work as any other citizen; eliminate all laws and local regulations that discriminate, directly or indirectly, against LGBTs; and complete all legal cases involving LGBTs that are unfairly related to informal work and prostitution laws. IDAHO was first created in 2004 to commemorate the anniversary of the World Health Organisation removing homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses on 17 May 1990.

24 August 2011 – Fridae

Religious authorities in Aceh "confused" as same-sex marriage is not covered under local Islamic laws

by News Editor
Religious authorities in the Indonesian province of Aceh say they are unsure of how to handle a case involving the marriage of two lesbians as same-sex marriages are not dealt with under local Islamic laws.

The Jakarta Globe on August 23 reported:
Security authorities in the deeply religious Indonesian province of Aceh have been forced to admit that they are clueless about how to handle a case involving the marriage of two lesbians, saying same-sex marriages are not dealt with under local Islamic laws. The “confusion” began when authorities arrested Ranto, The 25-year-old woman, however, turned out to be Rohani, who was married to Nuraini, 21.

“We are really confused,” Muddasir, the head of Southwest Aceh’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday, “Because there are no qanun [Islamic bylaws] to handle such cases.” Islamic bylaws in Aceh prohibit gambling, alcohol, ‘khalwat’ or close proximity between members of the opposite sex but not, it seems, lesbianism.

In 2009, the Aceh provincial government passed a qanun jinayat, which included outlawing lesbianism, but it was never signed into law by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf. Muddasir added that the couple will "still be charged, maybe with identity fraud, because what they did was embarrassing and forbidden by religion."

“I told them if Islamic law is applied in Aceh, they must be beheaded, burned and their ashes must be spread in the ocean.”

25 August 2011 – PinkNews

Indonesian province separates lesbians after fake marriage

by Stephen Gray
A lesbian couple in Aceh, Indonesia have been forcibly separated by the country’s police after one of them posed as a man so they could marry, the BBC reports. The unnamed women were married a few months ago, but were reported by suspicious neighbours. They were told by the chief of the Islamic police force that they should be beheaded and burned, but the area does not have yet have laws to deal with homosexuality.

Indonesia’s provinces were given some form of legislative autonomy in 2001. Aceh, a devoutly Muslim area, introduced Sharia law for citizens who follow Islam. In 2009, human rights groups condemned a planned move to introduce public lashings and imprisonment for homosexuality, but it was never signed into law. Their marriage was annulled and they have been forced to sign a separation agreement.

Last year, -the country’s information minister was censured internationally for joking about HIV/AIDS on Twitter

26 September 2011 – Fridae

Q! Film Festival returns to Jakarta and 5 other cities, Sep 30 – Oct 8

by News Editor
First started as Q!Screenings in 2002 in Jakarta, the festival now known as Q! Film Festival, is having its 10th run in the Indonesian capital and holds screenings in five other cities including Surabaya, Malang, Makassar, Bali and Yogyakarta. The Q! Film Festival, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia, will screen 86 movies from around 25 countries. Having faced harsh criticism and threats from Islamic hardline groups last year, the festival this year is keeping a lower profile with less exposure in the mainstream media and on social media networks. Even the festival’s website will be updated less than a week before the opening to “avoid and give less-space to certain radical groups to grab information about the festival,” festival co-director Meninaputri Wismurti told Fridae.

Organisers also say they are working directly with and have the support of Indonesia’s Human Right Commission, Law Advocacy Help and other human rights NGOs including Kontras (The Commission for “the Disappeared” and Victims of Violence) and LGBT group, Arus Pelangi. Attendees of the screenings have to register themselves as a Q! Film Festival member. Members have to be above 18 years old and the membership is only valid during the festival dates each year during which all screenings are free.

Highlights this year include Bad Girls. Cell 77, directed by Janusz Mrozowski from France/Poland. This film conveys the dynamics between female inmates and their talks about men and freedom. Claudette, directed by Sylvie Cachin from Switzerland tells the story of a commercial sex worker who was born as an intersex (posessing two sexes). HIV: Hey, It’s Viral! directed Salome Chasnof from the US is an education video made by youths explaining about HIV and sexuality in a simple and fun way. …Dalam Botol, directed by Raja Azmi (Malaysia) tells the story about a man who went through sex reassignment surgery for his lover and how his life changes afterwards. Role Play, directed by Rob Williams (US) is about the meeting of two men from different backgrounds and their different sexuality problems. Q!FF will be attended by international directors such as Janusz Mrozowski and Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman.

16 October 2011 – The Guardian

Indonesia’s transgender couples surrounded by fear and persecution

by Kate Hodal
Noah and Dian (names changed) could face jail for being married before Noah has completed his gender realignment surgery. Photograph: Javad Tizmaghz It was anything but a normal wedding. The identity cards were forged, the groom’s parents refused to attend, and only a handful of friends were invited. The event was so taboo it could have end with the bride and groom in jail. "That day I felt like a freedom fighter, like liberty itself," says 28-year-old Noah of his Indonesian wedding, with the photograph album of last year’s ceremony spread open across his knees. "But the truth is, we have no choice but to keep it a secret."

"It" is the fact that Noah, a small-boned man with teenage acne, a gelled-back crew cut and wispy moustache, is not yet – in the eyes of his government – a man. One of a growing number of Indonesia’s transgender people, Noah – who was born female, but is now pre-op female to male – is defying considerable sociocultural taboos in the world’s most populous Muslim country to become who he feels he is: "A man who just wants to be with the person I love."

"There’s no shortcut for this," he says, quietly, of his transgender life. "You have to plan everything – how to fit into society, how to act like a man, how to behave ‘normally’. If you don’t, you face discrimination – and physical, sexual and verbal abuse." There are no official figures for the number of transgender people currently living in Indonesia. "She-males" – or waria – are some of the most socially visible, with the most famous among them, talkshow host Dorce Gamalama, considered the Indonesian Oprah. But the transgender life is not easy in Indonesia. While legally allowed to marry, they can do so only after successfully completing realignment surgery, a prohibitively expensive process which costs 200m rupiah (£14,300). They must also wait for a government-issued identity card declaring their new gender.

In a nation where the average annual income is 20m rupiah, (£1,430) many transgenders and their partners are forced instead to lead what are, technically, same-sex relationships. "This is a grey area in Indonesian law," says Yuli Rustinawati of the Jakarta-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) charity Arus Pelangi (Rainbow Stream). "The national government recognises sex but not gender, or – in other words – the result of realignment surgery, but not the process."

Read complete article here

17 October, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

Pukaar: 75th issue published

by S Ajai Kumar Article Date: 17 Oct, 2011
Naz Foundation International (NFI) is an international development agency headquartered in the UK, with its regional programme office based in Lucknow, India, where it implements a regional programme of technical and institutional assistance to support its South Asia country partners to strengthen their capacity to support locally-based MSM and HIV and sexual health interventions in their countries.
Pukaar is the NFI’s quarterly journal focusing on Asia male sexualities and well-being. NFI, through Pukaar, has been informing its readers about the issues, needs and concerns we work with during the last 15 years. We have been articulating the concerns around male-male sexualities, sexual health and related concerns. The first issue of Pukaar was published during February 1993.

NFI is happy to bring out the 75th issue of Pukaar this month. The latest edition of Pukaar (October 2011, Issue No. 75), celebrates its 75th edition along with 15 years of NFI working with MSM sexualities and sexual health in Asia. This expanded edition of Pukaar outlines the history of the development of Naz Foundation International, and the model of technical support that has evolved over the years.

Pukaar can be downloaded here

The 75th issue broadly deals with topics like:
In the beginning – 1988 and all that – a brief review of the history of NFI from its beginnings:
A model of technical support to MSM, transgender and hijra populations explicated – the NFI model of technical support and assistance explained;
At the 10th ICAAP, Busan – APCOM engagement at the 10th ICAAP
APCOM Busan Declaration
Homonormativity – the hegemony of ‘LGBT’
Non-hijra transgenders struggle for identity
The Gulf’s gender anxiety
US embassy’s Pride celebrations in Islamabad more damage than support
Building the momentum to prevent HIV in MSM
Homosexuality in Islam – a book review
Who takes risks?
Gonorrhea strain found ‘resistant to antibiotics’
Explosion’ of sex-spread hepatitis C in HIV-positive men

View original article here

28 October 2011 – Fridae

Let’s be queer without fear: Nov 9 – 13

by News Editor
Malaysia’s only sexuality rights festival is back for its fourth edition with its theme – Queer Without Fear – to "highlight how homophobia and transphobia have negatively affected and continues to affect the lives of untold numbers of Malaysians who are discriminated against and persecuted because of their sexual orientations and gender identities."

The following is a statement issued by organisers on Oct 27, 2011:
Malaysians have been fearless these past few years. We have demanded for fair elections, for justice, for democracy. Let us then remember that democracy does not only belong to the majority, or the powerful, or the loudest. Democracy belongs to all. Let’s demand for equal rights and human dignity not just for ourselves, but also for those who are different, whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, transgender, asexual, unsure or simply fabulous. Let’s be queer without fear.

Seksualiti Merdeka, meaning Sexuality Independence, is Malaysia’s only festival celebrating the human rights of people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. It is organised by a loose coalition of NGOs, artists, activists and individuals and has been held annually since 2008. The festival programme includes forums, talks, workshops, book launches, art exhibition and performances.

This year, our theme – Queer Without Fear – highlights how homophobia and transphobia have negatively affected and continues to affect the lives of untold numbers of Malaysians who are discriminated against and persecuted because of their sexual orientations and gender identities. It is our firm belief that all Malaysians have the right to live and love without fear.

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November 04, 2011 – The Jakarta Globe

Govt Campaign Aims to Tackle Widespread Ignorance About HIV/AIDS

by Dessy Sagita
The Ministry of Health will roll out an extensive HIV/AIDS awareness program later this month to address the worryingly low number of youths who don’t know about how the disease spreads or its dangers.
Lily Sulistyowati, head of the ministry’s health promotion unit, said on Friday that only 11.4 percent of the country’s youth had “comprehensive knowledge” of the disease and ways to prevent it — far less than the Millennium Development Goal of achieving 95 percent awareness by 2015. “How can we tackle this issue if our youths don’t even know how the virus is transmitted or how to prevent it?” she said.

To respond to the low level of awareness, she said, the ministry would kick off a massive education campaign on Nov. 27 aimed at those between the ages of 15 and 24 years old in 10 provinces across the country. “We plan to hold campaigns in 10 junior high schools, 10 senior high schools, five colleges and 10 offices in each district that we visit,” Lily said. Among the provinces included in the campaign are Papua, which has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalency rates in the country, East, West and Central Java, and North Sumatra.

Lily added that the roadshow would feature workshops where the youths would be able to speak with health, education and religious officials to get a better understanding of how HIV was transmitted, how it could be prevented and how it affected the body. Aditya “Edo” Wardana, a prominent HIV/AIDS activist, said awareness campaigns targeted at youths had been around for years but had not made any significant impact because they were only half-heartedly carried out. “It seems like the Health Ministry is the only government office that understands the importance of such a campaign, but it hasn’t been backed up by other ministries such as the Education Ministry or the Communications and Information Technology Ministry,” he said.

He warned that no awareness programs would have the intended results unless there was strong support from those outside the health sector. Aditya said that to instill proper and comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS among teenagers and young people, sex education was the key. He said that gradually, the Ministry of Education would have to introduce sex education and courses on HIV/AIDS into the national school curriculum. “I know this won’t be a popular policy and the resistance will be strong, but it will save the lives of a lot of teenagers,” he said. He added that counter to conservative beliefs sex education at schools would encourage teenagers to engage in sexual activity, it would instead prompt teenagers to choose abstinence or at least to engage in responsible and safe sex.

He cited data from the Health Ministry’s 2007 Basic Health Research that found that only 25 percent of Indonesians aged 15 to 49 years knew HIV was not transmitted by mosquitoes. “So 75 percent of people in their productive age here still mistakenlybelieve that HIV can be transmitted by mosquitoes, which is a sad fact,” he said.

Aditya called on all ministries to keep an open mind about sex and HIV/AIDS education, because not only would it help tackle the deeply held stigma against people living with the virus but would also save many lives. Data released in June by the National AIDS Prevention Commission (KPAN) showed that HIV infection rates were on the rise in several provinces, including Bengkulu, Papua, Maluku, Aceh and Banten. Indonesia has one of the fastest-growing HIV transmission rates in Asia, the study showed, and in most instances the actual number of people living with HIV was believed to be far higher than the official data.

November 11, 2011 – AFP

Indonesia’s Gay Community Hails First Clinic

Kuta, Bali, Indonesia – Indonesia’s gay and transgender community on Thursday hailed the opening of its first dedicated health clinic, as officials battle a soaring HIV rate in the Muslim majority nation. The clinic on the Indonesian island of Bali, the first of its kind in the country, has received nearly 100 patients since it swung open its doors in early October, clinic administrator Dewa Nyoman Wirawan told AFP. "They tend to think twice before seeking treatment at public health centres as they often have an unpleasant experience — especially the transgenders due to their physical appearance," he said. "People tend to judge (the community’s) sexual orientation as deviant. Gays need such exclusive health clinics so that they will no longer hesitate to undergo routine screenings for sexually transmitted diseases or an HIV test."

The privately-owned Bali Medika Clinic offers various services including counselling on safe sex practices, as well as free condoms and antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients. "We usually get an unfriendly welcome at public health clinics. That’s what makes us reluctant to go to hospitals when we get ill," said Christian Supriyadinata, head of Gaya Dewata, an organisation that represents Bali’s gay and transgender community. This clinic will have a very positive impact for us. If we receive quick treatment it will automatically keep (sexually transmitted) diseases from spreading," he added.

The number of known HIV/AIDS cases in Bali, a tourist hotspot, jumped to 3,778 in 2010, up 19 percent over the previous year, according to a report by the National AIDS Commission. A quarter of the island’s prostitutes are reported to be HIV-positive, officials say. Homosexuality is legal in the country of 240 million people, but it remains a taboo among many in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Wirawan said the clinic was crucial for an often stigmatised community. "Whenever they have an HIV test they have no choice but to reveal their sexual orientation and it is not easy for them elsewhere due to the social stigma," he said.

November 17, 2011 – The Jakarta Post

View Point: Sexualities: The straight and very, very narrow

by Julia Suryakusuma, Yogyakarta
Imagine going to a full-on Javanese royal wedding, full of pomp and ceremony, the bride and groom resplendent in gold jewelry and trimmings and the somber blacks and browns of Javanese traditional attire.
Then imagine attending a huge conference two days later, opened with a dance inspired by Ardhanareesvara, a half-male, half-female manifestation of Shiva, illustrating the dualism of human nature. The dance is very gracefully performed – amazingly so when you consider that the performers are all … men!

Yes, they are Indonesia’s famous third sex, the waria (wanita-pria or female-male), akin to the hijras of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan; the fa’afafine of Polynesia, the kathoeys (ladyboys) of Thailand and the “sworn virgins” of the Balkans, among others. Very skillful and graceful, inviting much admiration and applause, their performance was also just as kitschy and campy as might be expected. The dancers wore sparkly, sequined and glittery kebayas (traditional blouses), with colors so bright and flashy that the audience needed sunglasses.

The contrast between the two events was huge!…Or was it? In fact, there were lots of similarities. Both had hordes of people watching (5,000 at the wedding, and an estimated 1,200 from 49 countries at the conference), with oodles of dignitaries and foreigners. And both were related to sex and reproduction. The wedding was Indonesia’s answer to William and Kate’s royal hitching earlier this year: the Oct. 18 nuptials of Nurastuti Wijareni, the youngest daughter of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X of Yogyakarta, and a commoner, Achmad Ubaidillah.

The conference, held from Oct. 19 to 22, was the 6th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR6), which is held every two years. Previously hosted in Manila, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hyderabad and Beijing, the venue for the conference this year was Yogyakarta at the Gadjah Mada University Center for Population and Policy Studies. The theme? “Claiming sexual and reproductive rights in Asian and Pacific societies”.

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