Lawmakers in Indonesia are considering legislation that would require state “rehabilitation” for individuals seeking “sexual satisfaction through unusual and unreasonable ways, which include sadism, masochism, incest, and homosexuality,” the Jakarta Post revealed this week.
The Post obtained a copy of the “Family Resilience Bill,” which spans a wide variety of topics from helping avoid high divorce rates to forcing companies to offer mandatory maternity leave and child care to promote population growth. The nominal reason for the expansive impositions in the law is to combat “family crises”; the bill reportedly defines being gay as a “crisis.”
“Families experiencing crises due to sexual deviation are required to report their members to agencies handling family resilience or rehabilitation institutions to undergo treatment,” the draft bill reads. There is little information on what “rehabilitation” is defined as since the bill would establish new family crisis agencies that would then handle the “rehabilitation.”
Language elsewhere in the bill reportedly demands that the government implement federal safeguards for people and families facing “physical and non-physical threats.” The newspaper says the bill lists among those threats “individualism, secularism, casual sex propaganda, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] propaganda.”
The Post noted in another article that the bill also listed provisions to make it more comfortable for women to enter the workforce and remain there as new mothers. Among those provisions were mandatory six months’ maternity leave for women and requirements that all offices have “lactation rooms” for breastfeeding women and daycare centers. Not all women produce milk, particularly those who had complicated or surgical births, but the United Nations has enacted a global pressure campaign to force women into breastfeeding.
The bill also required that all women “regulate household affairs as well as possible” and “fulfill the rights of the husband and children according to religious norms.” It is not clear how the government would enforce these provisions, and the bill reportedly did not establish a standard definition for good regulation of household affairs.
Most of Indonesia is not an Islamic country; however, legally, only Aceh province is governed by sharia, the Islamic law. Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, and while the bill would not deem identifying as LGBT a crime, it does mandate the government force LGBT people to abandon that identity.
Australia’s ABC News reports that supporters have defended the bill a saying that it would “realize the emotional and spiritual development of the Indonesian people.”
“Let’s look at it more fundamentally. The practice of homosexuality for example – does it not disrupt the future of mankind on a family basis?” Gerindra Party lawmaker Sodik Mujahid said. Mujahid went on to invoke “pancasila,” the state ideology of Indonesia, to justify banning homosexuality.
“I think Pancasila has a different measure of what constitutes private and national matters. Maybe in Western countries this is a private matter. However, it’s not private when it comes to Pancasila,” Mujahid said of being LGBT.
Indonesia’s foreign ministry defines “pancasila” as consisting in five principles: “belief in the one and only god; just and civilized humanity; the unity of Indonesia; democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives; [and] social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia.”
In other words, Mujahid made the case that forcing LGBT people into unspecified rehabilitation would help promote “social justice.”
LGBT rights groups have sounded the alarm on potential human rights violations occurring if the bill passes.
“The news from Indonesia is extremely concerning,” Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, an organization that advocates globally for the rights of LGBT people, wrote in a statement to the press. “The draft bill proposes to codify in law that LGBTQ people pose a threat to their families and need to be ‘rehabilitated’, changed, and removed – in essence requiring LGBTQ people by law to undergo so-called conversion therapy practices which are deemed by reputable psychiatric institutions, such as the World Psychiatric Association, as harmful and ineffective.”
“This not only intensifies the mounting persecution and hate LGBTQ people already face, but also requires their families to report them, making LGBTQ people even more vulnerable and isolated,” Stern added.
Women’s groups in Indonesia also objected, the Post noted.
“The bill’s spirit is to control families,” Mutiara Ika Pratiwi of the women’s rights group Perempuan Mahardhika told the newspaper. “According to the International Labour Organization [ILO] convention, the spirit of true maternity rights is not for family resilience. Maternity rights should be provided for the fulfillment of basic women’s rights.”
The chairwoman of the Indonesian Breastfeeding Association, Nia Umar, described the bill as “very weird.”
The provisions requiring government action to prevent homosexuality appear to be a concession to the increasingly loud and influential radical Islamic voices in the country, the world’s most populous majority-Muslim nation. Radical Islamic voices have increasingly demanded punishment for behavior deemed sinful by Islam that is not criminal and advocated for the use of Islamic punishments like lashes against adulterers, those who drink alcohol, and others who engage in haram activities.