Indonesia Anti-Gay Fatwa Ignites Debates

Jakarta – A new fatwa by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) that criminalizes homosexuality in the world’s most populous Muslim state, has drawn mixed reactions, with rights activists seeing it “discriminatory”.

“The fatwa combines molestation, which is a crime in the penal code system in Indonesia, with sexual orientation, which is not regarded as a crime,” rights activist Azriana works with the Jakarta-based National Commission on Violence against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, UCA news on Monday, March 30.

The fatwa has the potential “to criminalize people who don’t commit crimes.”

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Issued last December, the fatwa criminalizes homosexual acts and proposes harsh punishments for such acts including caning and death penalties.

It followed the issuance of a law in the province of Aceh last September which approved caning as a punishment for homosexuality and extra-marriage sexual relationships.

This months’ fatwa has raised the concerns of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community in Indonesia.

“I didn’t have courage to be myself,” Hartoyo, who realized he was attracted to men when he was a fourth-grader in elementary school, recalled.

The founder of Our Voice, an organization that advocates LGBT community, went on saying: “I feel sad every time I see a couple sitting in a park or in the street.

“They can express their love freely. I want to be like them. But I live in Indonesia.”

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.

Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, make up nearly 12 percent of the country’s population.

Defending the Fatwa
Defending the fatwa, MUI officials said that it is essential to curb the increasing homosexual lifestyle in the Muslim-majority country.

“The phenomenon of sexual crimes and the phenomenon of deviated sexual orientation has come to society and this concerns the people. It then becomes a social problem,” Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh, secretary of the MUI’s commission on fatwas, said.

“MUI is called to answer such a contemporary issue and then to find a solution to it. Based on religious review and sociological and legal aspects as well, we issued the fatwa.”

A similar support for the fatwa has been shared by Indonesia’s Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI.

“Being homosexual isn’t God’s will,” Habib Muhsin, FPI’s chairman, said.

According to Islam, “the punishment is the death penalty,” added Muhsin who believes the number of homosexual people in Indonesia will grow.

Same-sex relationship and marriage are totally prohibited in Islam, Christianity and all divine religions.

Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but considers homosexual intercourse as sinful.

Source – Onislam