Recorded abuses against LGBT ‘the tip of the iceberg’

Forum LGBT Indonesia, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, has recorded 47 cases of abuse against gay individuals across the country over the last year, a figure it says is only the tip of the iceberg.

The coalition said on Tuesday that it had collected and studied 47 reports of violence and discrimination against the gay community from 21 local NGOs promoting LGBT rights, with transgender individuals (29 cases) being the most targeted victims, followed by lesbians (12 cases) and gays (six cases).

Cases of violence include bullying, physical attacks, verbal abuse and murder. Instances of discrimination include exclusion in the workplace and criminalization.

These cases are perpetrated by institutional and personal actors. Institutional actors include policemen and public order personnel. Personal actors include families, neighbors, vigilantes and religious-based mass organizations, such as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

“There was one incident in Makassar, South Sulawesi, in which a 17-year-old girl was reported to the police by her parents because they had discovered her to be a lesbian. The police then detained her for four days before setting her free again. This constitutes discrimination in law, perpetrated by personal and institutional actors,” Khanis Suvianta, the research coordinator, said.

“Physical violence also includes murder. Three transgender individuals had been murdered in 2012, one in Yogyakarta and two in Jakarta,” Khanis added.

Researchers concluded that the public’s lack of knowledge on how human rights principles apply to all sexual and gender identities had prevented people from reporting cases of abuse, leading to the failure of the government and the police institution to provide LGBT individuals with protection and safety.

Khanis said the amount of violence against the LGBT community gathered by the researchers might not reflect the actual magnitude of abuses against the community, since most cases went unreported.

“I believe this report just captured the tip of the iceberg. A number of our respondents didn’t want to have their cases published, even though we had documented their reports,” Khanis said. “Some respondents even refused to continue the interview process after it had started. They just stopped talking to us,” Khanis said.

Yulita Molyganta from Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia said that a lot of LGBT individuals decided not to file a report about the abuse they experienced because of “self-condemnation”. “The logic of self-condemnation is this: People say that I am sinful and abnormal, therefore there is no wonder that I experience this kind of violence,” Yulita added.

Dede Oetomo, the founder of Gaya Nusantara, Indonesia’s oldest LGBT rights group, said education was key to curb stigmatization against LGBT individuals.

“Unfortunately, moral education never touches upon intolerance issues. How to be tolerant of a person who is different from you? Moral education focuses too much on the observance of religious rituals, like performing salat [daily prayers] or going to church,” Dede said.

Khanis said the study on abuses against LGBT in Indonesia is the first step toward providing better human rights protection to LGBT individuals in Indonesia.

“We could bring this finding to a national forum and educate the government and the public that LGBT community is very prone to human rights abuses. This way, we would prompt the government to provide us with better protection,” Khanis said. (ogi)

Source – The Jakarta Post