Court setback for Indonesia’s Islamic Family Love Alliance
If there’s one thing one can always be certain about is this: if religious organisations use words like ‘family’, ‘love’, and ‘truth’ to describe themselves, inevitably they turn out to be hate groups.
Evidence of this emerged this week when the Family Love Association, known a AILA, was told to get lost after it unsuccessfully petitioned Indonesia’s Constitutional Court to make gay sex and sex outside of marriage a crime in the country. The picture above shows members of the group disconsolately leaving the court.
The case, brought to the court in 2016, ended when five of the court’s nine judges rejected AILA’s demands, saying the authority to introduce such a law does not lie with the court but with the Indonesian parliament.
Four judges dissented from the majority ruling, arguing rejecting the petition suggests the legal system does not:
Offer room for religious norms to be inserted in the constitution.
The decision is a considerable victory – and source of relief – for LGBT Indonesians, who have faced increased scrutiny over recent years.
Tama, a transgender activist from Yogyakarta, told BuzzFeed News he and other LGBT people were “celebrating here, right now” in the wake of the decision. He said on Thursday:
We didn’t expect this at all. We were so gloomy this morning. Thanks to the rainbow for remaining in the the hearts of all brave Indonesians who resist oppression on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics.
But the petitioners expressed disappointment after the ruling was handed down, with some people exiting the court crying.
Rita Hendrawati Soebagyo, co-founder of the Family Love Alliance, and now at the forefront of Indonesia’s conservative movement, contended she wanted to make the country more “civilised” by “strengthening family values”.
“We lost, but it is not a moral defeat,” she said, arguing that the court had rejected the proposal on technical, not substantive, grounds.
Professor Euis Sunarti, lecturer at the Bogor Agricultura Institute, said she was saddened by the decision, which she had not expected.
As a grandmother of two kids and mother of four, I am intimidated by the fact that currently the magnitude of adultery, pornification, and obscene cases in our society is so big. To fight against it, we need law certainty.
Sunarti said she “appreciated” the four judges with a dissenting opinion and reiterated that the decision had been technical.
During hearings for the case in 2016, witnesses for the Family Love Alliance argued that homosexuality must be criminalised to protect Indonesia’s values.
At one hearing in August 2016, chairman of the National Child Protection Commission Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh said the court needed to take urgent action to curtail a crisis of sexual morality that put the nation’s children at risk.
He called for a five-year prison sentence to be imposed for homosexual acts, which he warned:
Tend to be repeated because there is a factor of addiction in it.
He also raised concerns that same-sex marriage could come to Indonesia.
Hamid Chalid, a constitutional law expert at the University of Indonesia south of Jakarta, said the court needed to step in to protect local religious and moral values. These are being eroded, he argued, by international human rights norms pushed by Western governments that have purged religion from public policy.
Our country has legalised fornication, male rape, and homosexual acts. We’ve allowed our constitution to become too liberal – is that what we want?
LGBT activists feared a court decision in favour would lend legitimacy to anti-LGBT sentiment, and in some cases, violence, among Islamic fundamentalists.
There has been increased attention on Indonesia’s attitude to LGBT rights in the past two years, following a wave of anti-LGBT sentiment at the beginning of 2016.
A mid-2016 report from Human Rights Watch told of how vitriolic comments from public officials had triggered an unprecedented wave of assaults, violence, and public denigration that had startled Indonesia’s LGBT community.
In March, activists told BuzzFeed News the outbreak of violence had left many LGBT people living in “constant fear” despite the fact that homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia though intolerance is noticeably on the rise across the country.
In May this year, a young gay couple were caned for having consensual sex with one another in the Indonesian province of Aceh, which has a special legal status allowing it to insert Sharia bylaws into the criminal code.
Aceh’s Sharia courts were determined to make an example of the pair, who were arrested in March after vigilantes broke into their rented room and attempted to film them having consensual sex. Their punishment of 85 lashes was five greater than the prosecution had demanded.
Among the crowd was 45-year-old banker Munawar Hasan who told The Australian he had bunked off work to witness the “historic” event.
This is the first time someone was flogged for having gay sex and the people of Aceh have been waiting for so long to see them punished. This is a Sharia province.
For the LGBT movement to come and infiltrate our beloved land is unacceptable. I hope this sends a message they’re not welcome here. If the LGBT community continues to promote their lifestyle here I am sure the punishment will be even harsher.
In Aceh, ordinances criminalising drinking alcohol, sex outside of marriage, and gay sex can be enforced against Muslims and non-Muslims.
Police raids and mass arrests have also taken place at gay venues in Jakarta in 2017.