[Vision2020] Surviving Indonesia’s Antigay Clampdown
moscowcares at moscow.com
Tue Nov 26 08:26:56 PST 2019
Sorry ‘bout the interruption, but I came across this article in The Nation and us’ HAD TO share it. Thanks.
Courtesy of The Nation at:
Surviving Indonesia’s Antigay Clampdown
They met, fell in love, and were nearly torn apart in a country where LGBTQ people are increasingly persecuted.
When Nadia met Rana at a 7-Eleven in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, it was love at first sight.
Nadia, who is now 23, had moved to the city from her hometown a couple of hours away to study at an Islamic university. She had recently broken up with a high school boyfriend, Imam, turned off by his abusive behavior. She had also started to act on her growing attraction to women, spending hours on the Internet conversing with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities that, while suppressed in real life, could flourish on social media.
One day in the spring of 2015, Nadia (a pseudonym used to protect her identity) started chatting online with Rana, now 25, who asked her to meet. The rest is history. “She is precious,” said Rana when we met the couple last year. “I put her needs, what is best for her, above my own needs. I always wish her the very best.”
“She is everything to me,” said Nadia.
At first glance, the women seem like nothing more than a young couple in love. However, their relationship is highly fraught: Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, has grown increasingly intolerant of the LGBTQ community in recent years. Human Rights Watch reports that since 2016, Indonesia has seen a rise in hateful rhetoric and violence against LGBTQ people—from police raids to threats by influential politicians and religious organizations.
According to experts and activists, the situation can be especially precarious for lesbians living in a patriarchal society, where gender inequality and violence against women are prevalent. “It’s very common for Indonesians of a certain age to be pushed to get married,” said Teguh Iman Affandi, a board member of the Jakarta-based LGBTQ organization Suara Kita.
Rana said that she began to feel attracted to girls in junior high school. She was 16 when an uwa, or aunty, found her in her room with a girl she was dating. She immediately told Rana’s cousin, whom Rana lived with at the time and considered an adoptive mother. “I am so disappointed with you,” her cousin told Rana.
Rana had never admitted to being gay before. But something inside her couldn’t reject the notion. “I was in pain,” she said about that encounter. “How come I dare to hurt her? I did feel guilty, but you know, I discovered my true identity—that I am lesbian—and whatever happens, I have to accept myself for who I am. And so does my [family].”
Nadia, on the other hand, was less sure about her sexuality while in high school. She was attracted to girls, but she felt that she needed to date boys. Although she publicly dated Imam (also a pseudonym)—much to the satisfaction of her mother—she secretly led another life online. She said social media was how she began to discover her sexual identity.
We asked Nadia what it was like to date a man while leading this secret life online. She paused to consider her words. “He knew that I was a lesbian,” she said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “His reason [to date] was, he wanted to change me to be a better person. To be straight.”
Nadia broke up with Imam during her first semester at the university. He was violent and often beat her. “I realized that was his true self,” she said. “I was angry. We had just been dating, and he was abusive. What would happen if we got married?”
The next semester, she met Rana.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo (right) with running mate Ma’ruf Amin in April 2019. (Reuters / Willy Kurniawan)
Indonesia has historically had a reputation for tolerance. Its 1945 Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and the state’s secular ideology, Pancasila, encourages pluralism. The transgender community, known as waria, existed harmoniously in this Southeast Asian archipelago for hundreds of years.
But the country is now in the grips of what Human Rights Watch describes as a government-driven moral panic that has targeted sexual and gender minorities and fueled fear in the community. While homosexuality is not criminalized—except in conservative Aceh province, which follows Sharia, or Islamic canonical law—there has been an increase in bylaws targeting LGBTQ people. In November 2018, for example, a city in West Sumatra passed a regulation to fine gay or transgender people who engage in behavior considered immoral.
Government officials have made public comments attacking the community—from the mayor of Tangerang, who described homosexuality as a psychological illness, to former defense minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who derided the struggle for LGBTQ rights as an outsiders’ proxy war more dangerous than nuclear war. There has been a surge in raids on private LGBTQ gatherings and arrests under the country’s anti-pornography laws. In 2017, Human Rights Watch documented, at least 300 people were apprehended by police on suspicion of being LGBTQ.
Photo . . .
Nadia and Rana in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 2018.
Note: Rodna and I were married for forty-three years before her passing . . . the most loving 43 years of life that a person could ever experience. To deny any two individuals such an experience is WRONG !
Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .
"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
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