Gay Indonesians facing oppression

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A decision by the Indonesian government to allow regions semi-autonomous power has led to the gay community being persecuted and victimised, reports the Jakarta post.

Indonesian local authorities have been granted the right to use Islamic law, the result being a strict conservative attitude to homosexuality often leading to the prosecution of gays, despite a federal constitution supposed to protect LGBT civil rights.

Several local governments have passed laws making homosexuality illegal.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.

An anti-prostitution law passed in 2004 in the region of Palembang on Sumatra outlaws gay men and lesbians and includes homosexuality in its definition of prostitution.

Indonesian LGBT rights group Arus Pelangi claim these local laws violate their human and constitutional rights. The group has appealed to the federal ministry of Justice and Human Rights to force the regions to comply with national law.

‘Such ordinances are politically charged to please the majority,’ Rido Triawan, director of Arus Pelangi, told ministry officials during a meeting Monday.

Mr Triawan describing how gays are frequently beaten on the streets.

A government spokesperson said the they are seeking advice but added where Sharia law is present the central government has little control.

Wahiduddin Adams, who is in charge of facilitating the drafting of regional bylaws, admitts that the central Jakarta government is finding it difficult to stop discriminatory ordinances.

Jakarta has so far refrained from interfering in local governance for fear of being seen as subverting the new local autonomy.

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