Five-day ASEAN Queer Advocacy Week conference starting on July 17 has been relocated to an undisclosed location
A poster of the ASEAN Queer Advocacy Week which was to be held in Indonesian capital Jakarta from July 17. (Photo: Instagram)
Security threats from conservative Islamic groups in Indonesia have forced organizers of a Southeast Asian LGBT event to move it from Jakarta to an undisclosed location.
The Indonesian capital was to host the five-day ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Queer Advocacy Week conference from July 17.
However, the organizing committee which received death threats from conservative groups decided to move the venue citing "security reasons after monitoring the situation very closely, including the anti-LGBT wave on social media.”
“The decision was made to ensure the safety and security of the participants and the committee,” the committee said in a statement.
Arus Pelangi, a Jakarta-based LGBT rights advocacy outfit and the local organizer, claimed in a July 16 statement that they received a barrage of death threats via social media like Twitter and Instagram.
Personal accounts of its activists and the identity of the organizers were disclosed on social media to tarnish its image, Arus Pelangi further claimed.
Hendrika Mayora Victoria, 35, a Catholic transgender and coordinator of Fajar Sikka, a same-sex advocacy group, said, "Indonesia is not ready to accept diversity and is increasingly homophobic."
This latest case was a worrying signal, Victoria added.
"What's sad is that hate speech, under the pretext of certain religious teachings, continues to be echoed," Victoria told UCA News.
"The event actually aims to unify the vision of an inclusive ASEAN region and strive for a safe space for civil society."
The Journalists Union for Diversity and the Alliance of Independent Journalists in a July 16 joint statement lamented local and national media coverage which fueled persecution of same-sex couples.
Most online media reports contain more statements from politicians, police, Ulema (religious) councils, and government officials calling for anti-LGBTQ laws “to increase hostility, hatred, discrimination and persecution against the group," they said.
The Human Rights Working Group, a coalition of NGOs, with the Secretariat for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Franciscans as one of its members, urged the police to investigate and take action against perpetrators of hate speech.
Daniel Awigra, the group’s executive director, said the cancellation of the event in Jakarta was "a form of powerlessness and failure of the state in its constitutional obligation to guarantee a sense of security for everyone without exception to express and assemble peacefully."
"The state should actually take action against the perpetrators who have been spreading incitement and hatred," he said.
Same-sex couples are vulnerable to discrimination in Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world.
Earlier this month, Garut district in West Java province passed a regulation criminalizing same-sex activities.
In December last year, a visit by US special LGBTQ envoy Jessica Stern was canceled after resistance from Islamic groups.
In December 2021, Bogor, a city in West Java province passed a regulation to prevent sexually deviant behavior.
Between 2006 and 2017, Arus Pelangi recorded 172 cases of persecution in Indonesia, including intimidation, physical and verbal abuse, and maltreatment against same-sex couples.
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