Gay ex-policeman arrested on Valentine’s Day for ‘deviant’ sexuality launches ‘last-ditch’ attempt to win his job back

A police officer stands guard at the front of the Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia

A former policeman in Indonesia is suing the country’s police force for wrongful dismissal over his sexuality, in a landmark case in the conservative nation.

On Valentine’s Day, 2018, 31-year-old police brigadier Tri Teguh Pujianto was arrested with his partner as they were saying goodbye to each other, and inappropriately questioned on his “deviant” sexuality. By October, he was fired from his job after 10 years in the police service.

Since he was dismissed, Pujianto has been fighting to be reinstated in the police force, and in 2019 he had a laswuit thrown out by a judge, citing its timing.

However, now that an internal police appeals process has been completed, his case will finally be heard in court.

According to Reuters, court documents for the case, which rights groups say is the first of its kind, show that Pujianto has been accused by Central Java police of violating “ethical codes of the national police… by the deviant act of having same-sex intercourse”.

Aside from the province of Acer, which practices Sharia law, being gay isn’t illegal in Muslim-majority Indonesia. But LGBT+ people living there still face discrimination as religious and political leaders often act on their own prejudices.

Pujianto’s legal representation are arguing that the police code is “elastic”, and doesn’t mention sexual orientation.

The former police officer, who now runs a barber shop, said: “This is my fight, my last-ditch effort.

“Why won’t they judge my service for all those years? Why exaggerate my mistakes, which I don’t think were mistakes anyway?”

Dede Oetomo, of the advocacy group GAYa NUSANTARA, said that whatever the result of landmark case is, the former police officer will have made an impact.

He said: “He’s broken the mould because he’s brave. My hope is that more activists will emerge from cases like his.”

Pujianto added: “I want to fight for basic human rights, so there will no longer be arbitrary actions taken against minorities.”

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