Curbing the LGBT  

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The notification about the cancellation of a meeting to approve the draft of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on Thursday last week came quite suddenly." I was only informed last night that the meeting had been canceled," said Arteria Dahlan, a member of the Criminal Code Bill Working Committee.

    The meeting was to invite Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly, the administrations representative which had submitted the revision. It was canceled because many politicians were unable to attend. "We had agreed that if one faction could not attend, then the meeting would be postponed," said Arteria.

    Read: Protecting LGBTs

    In that meeting, they were to discuss the approval of many important matters in the Criminal Code. This included provisions about the death penalty, age at which a person can be convicted of a crime, factors which can increase or decrease legal punishments, and the dissemination of the teachings of Communism, Marxism, and Leninism. 

    Other issues included crimes against the dignity of the office of the president and vice president, gambling, and private-sector corruption. There are also provisions on expanding the definition of adultery, criminal charges against unmarried couples living together, and the criminalization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) group.

    The LGBT issue recently became a public discussion, mainly after National Mandate Party (PAN) General Chairman Zulkifli Hasan said that there are five House of Representatives (DPR) factions which approve of the existence of LGBTs. The members of the Working Committee loudly denied the statement made by the Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). "The one going on about it never came to the meetings," said Working Committee chairman Benny Kabur Harman.

    It seems all the more inflammatory because Zulkifli did not specifically say which factions supported LGBT. According to Benny, many politicians stayed away when invited to attend the meeting for deliberating the Criminal Code. In addition to being sensitive issues, said the Democrat Party politician, many of their members do not understand the substance of these crucial subjects. 

    Read: LGBTs Caught Up in Election Pandering

    At one sitting, Zulkifli was the sole person deliberating with the administration’s representative in a meeting on the Criminal Code. Only few Working Committee attended the event. In May 2017, for example, the only Working Committee members who showed up were T.B. Soenmandjaja from the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) Faction and Aditya Mufti Ariffin from the United Development Party (PPP) Faction. 

    Due to this lack of comprehension, Benny suspects that the Criminal Code Bill-which was initially submitted in 2013-will again fail to be passed by the current term of members of the DPR. Regarding the expansion of the definition of adultery and criminalizing same-sex activity, said Benny, many factions have avoided deliberating these regulations. "They are afraid," he said.

    Before Zulkifli brought the matter up, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar, and the Democrat Party rejected the administration’s proposal, according to a meeting held in December 2016. Later on, however, after Zulkifli made that statement, those factions actually supported the provisions. "There is not a single religion which justifies this," said Arteria, a PDI-P politician. 

    Regarding the LGBT issue, Benny reasoned, the state must regulate criminal provisions because the public rejects that the group be recognized. He said that the norms of the law attempt to positively reflect the values held in society. "Because it is at odds with it, it has to be outlawed," Benny added casually. 

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine