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Anti LGBTI Campaign in Military Must Stop

Responding to the imprisonment and dishonorable discharge of a soldier by Semarang Military Court in Central Java because of his perceived sexual orientation, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“This unjust sentence should be immediately overturned and the individual immediately released. No-one should be persecuted based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. This anti LGBTI campaign must stop.”

“This ruling yet again sets a dangerous precedent for other service members who are thought to have engaged in consensual same-sex activity. It further enshrines discrimination and risks inciting violence against perceived LGBTI people inside the military and in wider society.”

“The Indonesian Government needs to send an unequivocal message that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated, including in the military. State institutions should be leading by example, not undermining its own commitments to human rights.”

“Indonesia has to repeal this archaic and discriminatory provision in the criminal code and other regulations. The government must reform when it comes to the rights of LGBTI people.”

Background

On 14 October 2020, Semarang Military Court in Central Java sentenced “Corporal P” to one year of imprisonment. He was convicted under Article 103 paragraph (1) of the Military Criminal Code on “disobeying command” for allegedly having consensual same-sex relations with another member of the armed forces. He was also dishonorably discharged from service.

According to media reports, Army Spokesman Colonel Sus Aidil declared that the Army cannot tolerate LGBTI service members. He said a sanction will be imposed for those violating the public decency, including consensual same-sex relations.

This is not the first case of a soldier being criminalized because of their perceived sexual orientation. Earlier this year, in March, a military officer in Denpasar, Bali, was convicted under the same article for having same-sex consensual relations with three men. He filed for an appeal but the Surabaya Military High Court had backed the martial court in Denpasar.

Criminalisation of consensual same-sex conduct violates rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and General Comment No. 16 regulates the right to privacy and guarantees equality before the law without any discrimination.

Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and General Comment No. 18 on non-discrimination prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.