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Indonesian state agencies slam door on LGBT jobseekers

Civil servant recruitment drive has seen several departments bar members of the community from applying for posts

Indonesian state agencies slam door on LGBT jobseekers

Members of Indonesia's LGBT community have been banned from applying for posts in several government agencies. (Photo courtesy of Suara Kita).

Several Indonesian government departments have barred members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) community from applying for jobs in a civil service recruitment drive that started this month.

The government is looking to fill 190,000 vacancies in 67 ministries and state institutions as well as 461 local administrative offices across the country

However, several agencies such as the Ministry of Trade and the Attorney-General's Office have explicitly said that applicants “must not exhibit deviations in sexual orientation.”

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The Attorney-General's Office went so far as to classify such orientations “a form of mental disability." 

The move has sparked outrage among church leaders and human rights groups, who called the ban yet another example in a long list of prejudices against sexual minority groups.

Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman, a professor of moral theology at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta, said it was outright discrimination. Competence and expertise should be the first thing to be looked at, not sexual orientation, he said.

"State institutions must act impartially and work judgment must be based on objective criteria, not assumptions, suspicions and misguided perceptions," said Father Aman, who is also chairman of the Franciscans’ commission on justice, peace and integrity of creation.

Members of the community have been subject to increasing anti-LGBT rhetoric in recent years that has included calls for policies that would target LGBT people for arrest and “rehabilitation.”

According to Human Rights Watch, local decrees and other official documents it has seen have proposed handing over lists of allegedly gay and bisexual men to authorities, changing school curriculums to teach falsehoods about and hatred of LGBT people, and subjecting LGBT people to medical intervention in an attempt to change their sexual orientation.

Lini Zurlia, an LGBT lawyer, said the discrimination shown by the government agencies “adds more salt to the wounds” LGBT people already suffer. “The state is sharpening the stigma,” she said.

Ricky Gunawan, director of the Community Legal Aid Institute, said such blatant discrimination shows that homophobia is strengthening. Different sexual orientations should be accepted as “something that exists in society.”

Tjahjo Kulomo, minister of administrative and bureaucracy reform, appeared to defend the move, saying each agency has its own recruitment policy. "Usually, it becomes a consideration based on the type of position or type of work," he said.

However, he said, the ministry will review requirements which were considered discriminatory.

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