Indonesian minister attacked for AIDS comments on Twitter

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Indonesian information minister has been criticised for making anti-gay statements and jokes about AIDS on Twitter.

Tifatul Sembiring, who is also a member of the National AIDS Commission, made the remarks shortly after Jakarta’s gay film festival was disrupted by ant-gay protesters.

He tweeted: “Behaviours which are potentially carrying the virus must be prevented.”

Mr Sembiring also tweeted some quotes which he said were about homosexuality in the Koran: “God turned the earth upside down” and “rained them with stones from the burned land.”

Most controversially, he tweeted a joke made by former health minister Prof. Sujudi: “Aids – Akibat Itunya Dipakai Sembarangan.” This translates as “because they were reckless about where they put their genitals”.

Ricky Gunawan, of the Community Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Masyarakat), told the Jakarta Globe that the minister’s remarks were prejudiced and wrong.

“Tifatul is a member of the KPAN [National AIDS Commission], and as a minister he’s wholly responsible for matters of information and communication,” Mr Gunawan said.

“Logically, he should have tweeted useful information about HIV/AIDS, but the comments he made instead were misleading, strongly prejudiced, and stigmatised those living with HIV/AIDS.”

“It just goes to show that he doesn’t understand the issues of HIV/AIDS,” he added.

In June, Mr Sembiring blamed pornography for high rates of HIV/AIDS and last year, he suggested that there was a link between immoral behaviour and natural disasters.