An Indonesian city reportedly will begin fining individuals accused of “homosexual and transgender activities” in an attempted crackdown on the LGBTQ community.
Pariaman, a city in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra, passed a new law on Tuesday penalizing “immoral same-sex acts” and “transvestite activities” with a $70 fine. That total may not seem like much, but taking differences in per capita income into account, it’s more like $1,300 in the United States.
While homosexuality is not illegal in the majority Muslim nation, Pariaman City Council Chair Fitra Nora told The Guardian that LGBTQ people “will be subject to sanctions and fines if they disturb the public order.”
Deputy Mayor Mardison Mahyudin said the proposal resulted from “anxiety” toward LGBTQ people in the town of more than 80,000 people.
According to reports, the bylaws will be reviewed by West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno within the next 15 days. During a Thursday meeting on the ordinance, he reportedly claimed leaders across the province are attempting to devise solutions to the “problem” of LGBTQ people.
“At a minimum, we’re trying to prevent the population from increasing,” Prayitno is alleged to have said.
Other cities are expected to follow suit by introducing their own laws.
While Indonesia was once known as a moderate safe haven for the LGBTQ people, these proposals follow a wave of increasing attacks on the community since 2016, including a series of raids on gay saunas, spas, and even private gatherings in Jakarta.
In October, two men in West Java were arrested for running a Facebook group for queer and trans locals looking to connect with others like them.
While Indonesia lacks colonial-era anti-sodomy laws like Malaysia and Singapore, the semi-independent province of Aceh is permitted to punish same-sex behavior under its Shariah codes. The laws drew international condemnation after gay couples were publicly flogged in May 2017 and July 2018 while crowds cheered.
Over a two-year period, an estimated 530 people faced corporal punishment for offenses related to homosexuality, adultery, and drinking alcohol.
Pariaman’s discriminatory “public order” laws were again met with widespread backlash from global advocacy groups. Andreas Harsono, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, suggested the proposal is unconstitutional.
“It’s a local ordinance that has no grounds on Indonesia’s constitution nor other national laws,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Earlier this year, INTO reported that Indonesia’s parliament floated nationwide legislation that would criminalize homosexuality under laws forbidding sex outside of marriage. As of now, that bill has stalled.
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