Indonesia mayor targets gay people ‘because they’re possessed by demons’

Banners against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on December 27, 2017

A mayor in Indonesia has ordered the arrest of LGBT+ people so religious authorities can conduct exorcisms on them.

Mayor of Padang Mahyeldi Ansharullah has used the Indonesian Army (TNI) to target and detain queer people, whose existence he said was down to “the influence of jinn, devils,” according to Indonesian news site Tirto.

The mayor, whose region in West Sumatra is home to more than a million people, added that “we are ruqyah (using exorcisms) to prepare them to leave [the bodies].”

“We have educational activities that are wrong in the family. He is a boy, but is given a female toy.”

— Mahyeldi Ansharullah, Mayor of Padang, Indonesia

Mahyeldi said that he was taking other steps to ‘prevent’ people from being gay, such as ensuring that children did not play or dress in ways which were different from the stereotype of their assigned gender.

“We have educational activities that are wrong in the family,” said the mayor. “He is a boy, but is given a female toy, given a girl’s clothes, or vice versa.”

He added that men in Indonesia should not dance elegantly, unless that dance is part of a ‘male’ activity such as martial arts, and criticised democratic elections which resulted in women winning power.

Anti-LGBT+ march in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia

Protestors in an anti-LGBT march, led by the mayor of Padang in West Sumatra, Indonesia (Dprd Kota Padang/Facebook)

“Elections that equate men and women… well, that is also an indication in that direction,” Mahyeldi said.

“Those children, from the operations that we have, we will build and train, then we will cultivate the nationalism and plant their identity,” he added.

Homosexuality is technically legal in Indonesia, apart from in Aceh—which is under Sharia law—but queer people are still subjected to violence and crackdowns.

Indonesia mayor has repeatedly targeted the LGBT+ community

In November, Mahyeldi led an anti-LGBT march of thousands through the streets of Padang.

The mayor told attendees: “To the perpetrators of sin, let them repent and those who protect them immediately be aware because they will face opposition from all parties and communities in Padang as well as security forces.”

And just weeks before the rally, police in Padang reportedly arrested 10 women on suspicion of “lesbian deviant behaviour.”

Head of police Pol Yadrison said that intelligence authorities had been monitoring the women’s activities on social media and that one of the women’s Facebook pages showed her “kissing and cuddling” with another woman, as if they were “men and women.”

Other cities in Indonesia have cracked down on queer people

Pariaman city, which is located near Padang on Sumatra island, passed a law banning gay sex and other “acts that are considered LGBT” last year.

The city of more than 80,000 people will issue one million rupiah (£55) fines to same-sex couples convicted of committing “immoral acts” and to anyone found to be “acting as a transvestite.”

The city’s deputy mayor, Mardison Mahyudin, said that the law was part of a campaign to “eradicate LGBT.”

And in 2017, in the capital city of Jakarta, 141 men were arrested for attending what authorities called a “gay sex party,” leading to 10 of the men being convicted and handed prison time.