Mayor declares city ‘anti-LGBTQ+’ because he saw gay couples on New Year’s Eve

Mayor of Medan Bobby Nasution

The city of Medan, in the capital of Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, has been declared “anti-LGBT” by its mayor, Muhammad Bobby Afif Nasution. 

Nasution lashed out at gay couples celebrating New Year’s Eve together in the city in a homophobic rant.

Marking the start of 2023 on 1 January, he said: “Along the road in front of City Hall I wondered why I saw men [coupled] with other men. 

“That is unacceptable. There is no LGBT in the city of Medan. We are anti-LGBT,” reported Jakarta publication Coconuts.

Nasution went on to claim: “There isn’t a single ethnic group in Medan that supports same-sex relationships.

“So let us adhere to our own cultural values, be it in terms of tradition and everyday lives, and also in relationships.”

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Nasution said he hopes single people in the city will find heterosexual partners, marry, and have children. Medan has a population of more than five million people in its city limits and urban areas. 

Same-sex sexual activity is criminalised in two provinces of Indonesia: Aceh, a conservative Muslim province which practices Shariah law, and South Sumatra, a Muslim-majority province, according to the Human Dignity Trust.   

In 2022 the Indonesia parliament passed a new Penal Code criminalising sex outside of marriage — the law is set to come into effect in 2025 and will likely be used to target the queer community. 

In 2022 Indonesia’s parliament passed a new criminal code making all sex outside of marriage punishable by up to a year in prison. (Getty)

Nasution, who is the son-in-law of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, has been warned by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) that such discrimination is against the country’s constitution. 

“All citizens of this nation must be protected from discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and more,” Komnas HAM Commissioner Anis Hidayah said in response. 

Several human rights groups have labelled Indonesia as one of the most hostile places for LGBTQ+ people and according to a 2019 Pew Research report, just 9 per cent of Indonesians say that homosexuality is acceptable.

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