Indonesian President finally defends country’s LGBT population

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The President of Indonesia has broken his silence on the country’s rising political culture of homophobia, finally insisting that LGBT people must be protected.

President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo made his first comments on Indonesia’s escalating anti-LGBT violence, calling on the police to protect endangered citizens.

Indonesian President finally defends country’s LGBT population

“The police must act [to protect them],” Jokowi told the BBC. “There should be no discrimination against anyone.”

That doesn’t mean he’s a staunch support of the community however, as he clarified that “in terms of our beliefs, [the LGBT lifestyle] isn’t allowed, Islam does not allow it.”

Violence against the country’s LGBT population has been rising over the last few months, while the police have cracked down as well. Just this month, a gay couple were arrested for a Facebook photo of them kissing.

The anti-LGBT culture has been led in part by a number of the country’s politicians, who have even blocked Grindr and 80 other gay websites and apps in a crackdown on “deviant propaganda.”

“Jokowi’s long-overdue statement in support of LGBT nondiscrimination is a breath of fresh air as Indonesian officials and politicians continue their abusive and ill-informed homophobic onslaught,” said Kyle Knight, LGBT researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“A logical next step would be to repeal discriminatory anti-LGBT directives [by government institutions].”

While Jokowi has remained silent until now, his spokesperson has previously issued a statement in opposition to the country’s LGBT populace.

He said: “Rights of citizens like going to school and getting an ID card are protected, but there is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement.”