Indonesian lawmakers considering LGBT propaganda bill

Indonesian lawmakers are considering a bill that would block websites promoting so-called LGBT propaganda.

The Jakarta Post reported that a commission in the Indonesian House of Representatives on March 3 urged the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information to consider the measure. Spokesperson Ismail Cowidu told the Jakarta Post that his ministry has created a panel to discuss the proposal.

“The House commission has urged us, so we have to follow up on their proposal,” said Cowidu, according to the Jakarta Post. “However, the panel will still refer to the mechanism [to ban such websites] as stipulated in the prevailing provision.”

Mahfudz Siddiq of the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party, who chairs the House commission that has urged lawmakers to consider the propaganda bill, said the measure would enhance cyber security. He told the Jakarta Post that “LGBT issues can damage national security, identity, culture and the faith of Indonesians.”

Dédé Oetomo, an LGBT rights advocate from the city of Surabaya, told the Washington Blade on Sunday in an email that the propaganda bill is “still at the rhetorical level.”

He said “more conservative, Islamist” lawmakers support it. Oetomo told the Blade that Vice President Jusuf Kalla is among those who have questioned the measure.

“We note that the term ‘propaganda’ is based on the wrong premise that LGBT activists recruit heterosexual or cisgender children to ‘become’ LGBT,” said Oetomo. “We can start by debunking that myth.”

State Department ‘closely monitoring’ measure

Advocates contend this bill is the latest in a series of attempts by the Indonesian government to crackdown on them and their work in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. These include the Communications and Information Ministry’s efforts to block websites with gay or pornographic content.

Indonesian officials have also demanded that Facebook and other social media websites remove LGBT-themed emojis.

“We are closely monitoring reports about possible measures in Indonesia that would restrict the freedom of expression for LGBTI individuals,” State Department spokesperson Chanan Weissman told the Blade on Tuesday in a statement.

Weissman further stressed the U.S. government “will always strive to protect and advance the universal human right of all people, including LGBTI individuals, to express themselves both online and offline.”

“We encourage Indonesia, which rightly prides itself on its diversity and tolerance, to respect and uphold international human rights standards by ensuring the equal rights and protection for all of its citizens,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 signed a law banning the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors. Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan and other former Soviet republicans have considered similar bills in recent years.