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In step with the Nazis?

Biografi - On Tuesday, a gay couple in Aceh was punished with 85 strokes of the cane — despite protests from human rights advocates — for violating the province’s Islamic bylaw that bans homosexuality.

In North Jakarta on Monday, police arrested 141 men for allegedly violating the 2008 Pornography Law, which bans, among others, the provision of porn or making people “objects or models” of porn — clauses that respectively carry a maximum penalty of six and 10 years imprisonment.

For the people of Aceh, the sharia option was allowed in its 2005 international peace agreement with the government, though its bylaws remain controversial, even in the province. But the latter incident, a raid on a gym, clearly shows strong support for authorities barging in on the private realm, even without Aceh’s moral police.

The Jakarta Police were backed up by the Pornography Law, itself the product of a war between secular- and religious groups, the latter of which won the war with the tacit approval of the administration of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Critics’ fears materialized as the law, however vague, has been used by authorities and conservative parties to interfere in the private sphere, including sexuality. Sexual minorities are among the expected victims, with few sympathizers among our homophobic society — including those who recently joined shouts of, “Uphold the Pancasila,” referring to Indonesia’s state ideology, which promotes “a just and civilized humanity.”

Raids and arrests of allegedly gay people bring to mind past and present persecutions and criminalizations of sexual minorities. The most extreme example is perhaps the reportedly large portion of homosexuals among victims of the Nazi gas chambers.

Many of us think we are beyond such cruelty. Yet, the instant circulation of images of the mostly undressed men arrested in North Jakarta — being herded to police headquarters with some of their faces clearly visible — shows that Indonesians share similar homophobic sentiments with Nazi rulers. The leaked images were shared with exclamations of horror and support for the police, whom people praised for attempting to safeguard the youth and society from such “sinful” same-sex relations.

Continuous moral boosts for authorities to “protect” citizens’ morality will only endanger us as we virtually hand them a blank check to do so — just because police actions against gays are justified by the Pornography Law.

And like the Blasphemy Law, it further stigmatizes minorities, who, due to being “different,” find few effective channels to raise their voices. Religious groups claim that Indonesians, as God-fearing people, can in no way accept homosexuality. But, as Indonesia is not a religious state, authorities must keep out of the private realm, and limit religious issues to religious forums.

Following Monday’s raid, the police will need to, at least, clearly give proof of their allegations, including against the parties who allegedly made “objects of porn” out of the men. But by failing to protect the detainees’ privacy, the police are obviously riding on popularity based on widespread bigotry. Meaning, the National Police, under Gen. Tito Karnavian, have yet to safeguard the constitutional guarantee of our citizens’ basic human rights.[.thejakartapost.com]

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