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5 Sep 2008

Indonesian gay rights groups protest media bias in serial murder case

Gay and human rights groups in Indonesia have hit out at the media for linking homosexuality with violent anti-social behaviour ever since the case of 'gay' serial murderer Verry Idam Henyansyah hogged the headlines for over a month. King Oey of gay advocacy group Arus Pelangi reports from the ground.

Murder suspect Verry Idam Henyansyah is accused of killing a man in Jakarta and burying at least 10 of his victims including a toddler in the backyard of his parents' house in East Java province. The 30-year-old Koran recital teacher, who is also known as Ryan, first came to the public's attention after he was arrested on Jul 15 - four days after the police found the cut up body parts of Heri Santoso dumped in Ragunan area, South Jakarta. The Jakarta Post reported that Henyansyah confessed to stabbing and dismembering the 40-year-old man in the former's rented apartment after the victim insisted on being introduced to the suspect's boyfriend, Noval Andreas, 28.

Suspect Verry Idam Henyansyah (right) and Noval Andreas on the frontpage of Warta Kota on Jul 28, 2008.
The paper quoted a police spokesman as saying: "(Verry) allegedly showed Heri a picture of Noval in the nude, and Heri frankly expressed his desire for Noval. (Verry) reportedly refused his request, saying Noval was his partner, but Heri insisted he would pay him to get Noval."

The suspect soon confessed to the murder of more people in his hometown Jombang, East Java. Police have since unearthed ten bodies from the backyard of his parents' house set among rice paddies and sugarcane.

Henyansyah had reportedly blamed the killings on his family who killed the men out of disgust. He was quoted by Tempo magazine as saying, "Actually, I didn't do the killing. My family killed them. They disapproved of my lifestyle. They killed every man who was close to me."

Although most of the victims are known to be male, the police also recovered the bodies of one woman and a 3-year-old girl. One victim was reported to be a Dutch citizen, though that proved not to be true. The suspect and his boyfriend - it's not known if he is a suspect in the case - are said to have been flown back and forth between Jakarta and East Java while exhumation efforts were ongoing.

According to media reports, the suspect suffers not only from rage fits but has kept the belongings of the victims such as motorbikes, laptops, mobile phones and jewelry which have been retrieved from his house and his close relatives.

Pro and counter opinions offered by a slew of experts such as psychiatrists, psychologist, criminologists and other academicians have been quoted by the mainstream media eager to devote substantial space and air time to the case.

Among the most negative ones are from Erlangga Masdiana, a criminologist at the University of Indonesia, in Tempo [Jul 21-27]: "... that homosexuals commit sadistic killings should not surprise anybody if you know their world. People with deviant sexual behaviour are used to be close to criminal world. They are used to make threats and to use force if someone who is invited to intimacy refuses the offer. With such habits they can commit more serious crimes, of course."

"Homosexuals have stronger feelings of jealousy and they can act quite violently when their wishes are not granted. Gays/homosexuals have a deviant sexual behaviour and their aggressiveness is therefore beyond normal," declared Dadang Hawari, a well-known psychologist, in Berita Kota [Jul 20].

Several other psychologists interviewed offered more balanced comments.

Reza Indragiri, a forensic psychologist, in Warta Kota [Jul 22]: "... there is no relationship between sexual orientation and serial killings. To the contrary, killings among heterogeneous [heterosexual] couples are much more frequent than among homogeneous [homosexual] couples."

Psychologist Tika Bisono, when interviewed by Arus Pelangi [Jul 23] about the prevailing view in the society that homosexuals are inherently brutal, said: "... this [violence] is only related to someone's personality, not to the group he belongs to. His background is the determining factor, not his sexual orientation."

Dr Yunita Kartikasari, a lecturer in legal psychology, said: "... crime can be committed by all kinds of groups, because basically every individual has potentially negative emotions that can lead to criminality; it all depends on the triggering factor, not on the particular group he belongs to."

The fact that the general public still tends to stigmatise LGBTI persons is not surprising. More surprising is the fact that so many academicians still have negative views against homosexuality. This all despite the fact that the international community has moved on in the past four decades with the American Association of Psychiatrists declaring in 1972 that homosexuality should be erased from the category of mental disorders.

The World Health Organization [WHO] declared in a resolution in 1990 that homosexuals are no longer considered mentally ill.

Those two opinions finally reached the ears of Indonesian psychologists; the Indonesian Guidelines to Categorization and Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (1993), ceased to mention homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Yet, old ideas die hard; the Pandora's box has been opened and ordinary people, religious leaders and law enforcers alike have made pronouncements and statements which are very detrimental to LGBTI persons.

A gay man named Darso told Nonstop Daily [Jul 25]: "My friend was arrested in Senen area [Jakarta] during a police razzia [raid]. The reason was not clear. I am now afraid to be kicked out from my apartment. Since the Henyansyah affair started all gays have become afraid."

Indeed, the local police of Senen area, Jakarta, has started checking the rent apartments where many gays live. This action was directly led by police chief A.K.P. Kasmono [Nonstop; Jul 25]. In the same article, the Metropolitan Police Chief Irjen. Adang Firman stated, "The Metropolitan police does not discount that it will conduct raids against [hangout places of] homosexuals."

Even the (Islamic) para-military group Hisbullah, Fery Alfiansyah Noor, joined in the chorus: "Homosexuality is like an infectious disease. That is why the local government should be tough with the usual gay hangout places. If they are left free, they will ultimately infect the larger population." [Nonstop, Jul 25]

The chairman of the Association of Ulamas (Muslim Clerics) of Jakarta, Ashraf Ali, declared: "Gays and lesbians will 100% sure go to hell, because same-sex relationships are forbidden by the Koran." [Nonstop, Jul 25]

Those public exhortations seem to have had an effect on the police.

On Aug 4, Nonstop reported that the police raided a well-known gay disco "Moonlight" in Jakarta on Saturday night [rather Aug 4; 2 am], where they allegedly arrested 100 gay men. The official reason was to look for people who knew Henyansyah. In reality, no arrests were made that night; the management and Arus Pelangi staff who happened to be there, were able to persuade the 30-men strong police team that there was no need to do massive arrests if they were just looking for such information. In the end, the police just searched the crowd for drugs; they found some 'ecstasy' already thrown on the ground. Nonetheless, such blown up stories are typical for sensation-hungry tabloids such as Nonstop; this time they went too far by reporting a complete lie.

LGBT organisations, such as Arus Pelangi, Gaya Nusantara and many others, have come under intense scrutiny by the media; in the end of July and early August, no day passed without a phone call from a TV station or newspaper requesting for an interview or invitation for a (live) talkshow. Arus Pelangi has had to assign several spokespersons to fill the demand. It had the difficult task to counter all these unsavory pronouncements coming from experts, religious leaders and law enforcers.

Yuli Rustinawati of Arus Pelangi had to explain: "There are a lot of heterosexual persons who also become murderers. It's not true the gay and lesbian persons are more possessive than heterosexual persons. Anyone could become a murderer. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation."

On Jul 28, a coalition of 18 non-governmental organisations called for a press conference to highlight the growing concern of civil society that the stigmatisation of LGBT individuals due to the Henyansyah affair had gone too far.

The press conference was covered by the TV stations and newspapers like Indo Pos and The Jakarta Post. Shortly after, it is noted that tabloid newspapers shifted their focus on the psychopathic aspects of Ryan's personality, rather than his homosexuality.

The police investigation is ongoing.

The writer is the Secretariat of Arus Pelangi, a gay advocacy group based in Jakarta. They can be contacted via arus_pelangi@yahoo.co.id.


Reader's Comments

1. 2008-09-05 21:28  
Please do not mention that the defendant is a Koran recital teacher in case anyone accuses you of Islamaphobia....
2. 2008-09-05 22:16  
Let's put it this way..
Indonesians are way too hypcorite to admit that they have LGBT in their society.
It really is understandable because Indonesia is one of the country with highest population of moslems.
But let's put it this way,
The media in Indonesia (in conjunction with all the 'highly-qualified' psychiatrist/psychologists) mentioned and generalized all LGBT to have an intention to be a psychotic killing machine.
and their alibi varies from the feel of insecure of being minorities to the difficulties of being monogamous in gay relationship.
But are we all like that?
i don't think so.
i mean, if i would have that kind of tendency to be a serial killer, why i didnt kill all my exes who happily left me for someone else? or why didnt i kill those guys who gave me bad sex experience.
Not all of us are like that..
wait.. scratch that!
The media should have just shut their freaking mouth cause they know nothing about what they are talking about!
3. 2008-09-05 23:24  
I live in Indonesia...and the thoughts of people about LGBT are SUCKS!!!
They talk about us such they know about us...BUT...They don't know anything about us.
I admit that i can't express myself here freely.
just like playing the hide and seek...DAMN!!!
They think that they're smart talking "this" n "that" about LGBT...But apparently, THEY'RE STUPID!!!
What if one of their family member is gay?
Huh??? You think!
IF gayness is really an infectious disease, SHOW ME!!!
4. 2008-09-06 00:15  
sigh... malaysia also same.. sien~~
5. 2008-09-06 04:29  
I read with great interest al the comment those so called indonesian psycologists and or psychiatrist are making on the homosexual killings. I wonder how they got their degrees.Anyone can become a killer, no matter what orientation or sexuality you are. Shame on those so called professionals. Any case is a individual one and one should never generilize.
6. 2008-09-06 08:15  
homophobia and hipocrites are everywhere.
7. 2008-09-06 10:25  
In fact, from the people that I met, heterosexual guys are more violent than homosexual guys. We homosexual guys are more respectful to people and we are true to ourselves. Look at the so called professionals, only a bunch of liars that speak without facts and proof.
8. 2008-09-06 13:31  
Some gays win gold medals in the Olympics, others produce amazing works of art. A handful become serial killers... and most are just ordinary people in the minds of whom "good" and "bad" coexist awkwardly from birth to death.
We will cease to be "different" not when we cease to be gay (we all know that's impossible) but when society ceases to be homophobic.
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12. 2008-09-06 14:53  
hahaha i'm starting to question where these indonesian "experts" got thier education from
13. 2008-09-06 14:58  
Numerous comments can be made on this remarkable article. One of the interesting statements in it that i'd like to react upon is the following :
"More surprising is the fact that so many academicians still have negative views against homosexuality"
Most people are indeed astonished when they see "educated" individuals fall into Manicheian and irrational systems like scientology and other sects, or political/religious extremism. Our surprise stems from the fact that we keep confusing between intelligence and knowledge.
Knowledge is NOT intelligence. Very "uneducated" people can be highly intelligent while highly academic people may fall head first into the most simplistic traps for the mind.
Where spirituality and morality are concerned, all that counts is maturity, intelligence and UNDERSTANDING. Not knowledge, not academic achievements. Alll the events in the world keep proving the difference every day.
14. 2008-09-06 15:43  
i feel very sad after reading the artical.
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16. 2008-09-06 19:39  
stupid psycologist! what a shame! hehehehe
17. 2008-09-06 22:04  
I don't understand the meaning of gays and lesbians 100% go to hell? Don't heterosexual go too?! It's the character that counts, doesn't mean we are les or gay that made us murderers. Why are they so interested to see abt us? Don't they have anything to do? kpo. At least we don't care about what heterosexual people ae doing.
18. 2008-09-06 23:46  
Another gay bashing story ! What's new???? Fridae, please come up with something more creative, can ??? Which one of us doesn't already know that gay men are seen as a threat to proceation, especially in baby-scarce Singapore :-)!
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20. 2008-09-07 01:59  
Hi.. Chill aitz.. Let's face it, Media's a biased biatch.. They publish news to gain publicity for themselves, or they'll be jobless. Anywayz, about us Gayz and Lesbianz 100% go to Hell, let's leave it to God, have faith. At least we know we aren't making any galz pregnant and juz leaving them at the side of the road! People need to know that the reason people commit crimez is not just based on their sexual orientation, but what truly triggerz them to do it! Don't tell me, that kid that busted out the whole school, he's gay?! Sheesh! Come on, get real.. You call yourselves Psychiatrists, Doctorz, but where's your brainz?! Up your Ar$e?! For now, we need to exclude ourselvez from every reasonz these heterosexualz beingz can find to get the Media's attention. Don't give in to them. We're not weak, we're stronger and smarter... We're special.. So, my friendz, take a chill pill, Life's too short to be straight all the time...
21. 2008-09-07 03:14  
What ? Gay and lesbian go to hell? I'm wondering if thise killers are straight. Heard from friends that alot of these kind of fake peoples around, making use of their victim, asking for money, if their need is not fullfilled, they will be very unhappy. And for those expert, i was wondering if they go through any research before making those "hurting" statement. What the hell they know about gay and lesbian. As for dadang statement, " IT'S SO UNCIVILIZED STATEMENT "
22. 2008-09-07 04:53  
that's why i didn't get any guys from jakarta... really hard to get guys there... unlike in malaysia....
23. 2008-09-07 17:14  
Hooray! All gay n lesbian go to hell n no heterosexual there. We will not be discriminate anymore. Hell is our new world. Oh! The hetero Osama bin Ladin can go to heaven. Is that according to Koran too?
24. 2008-09-07 17:56  
So a deluded criminologist and psychiatrist have fired up persecution of gays. It shows the importance of laws like the new one we now have in the UK making it a crime to incite hatred against gays and trans, or anyone else, on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
Comment #25 was deleted by its author
26. 2008-09-08 05:57  
Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Einstein cannot go to heaven for being kafirs - according to the Quran - but, as someone pointed out in the posts, Osama bin Laden can.
I actually don't mind sharing hell with Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Einstein...
There is one part of the story which seems to be less discussed: this psychopath was a Quran recital teacher... What does that exactly mean?
It means the guy learned a f@cking long text by heart without knowing what it means (Quran was written in ancient Arabic, which is understood by only 3% of the Arabs today - and it is very unlikely that this psychopath belonged to that group) - and made muslim kids recite it. FYI, almost all muslims recite Quran on a daily basis without knowing a word about what they are mumbling.
Now, considering these, it is not at all surprising for me that the guy went crazy, not only because of the monotony of his "job" but also due to the graphic description of the promised punishments in hell (if he has read the translation of Quran).
He has came to realize that for being gay he would not be allowed to heaven to play with houris and "pearl boys", despite of his services in the recital business.
It is also not surprising that the muslim dominated media in Indonesia was fast to find gays as culprits - otherwise they would have to deal with the other important characteristic of this person: his religious job, which at least popping out as much as his sexual orientation.
Being gay and knowing one or two things about islam, I would dare to say all he has done had much more to do with his "religion" (if islam can be considered one) than his sexual orientation. If one does not agree with this, I suggest him to read certain parts of the Quran - then he will know what am I talking about. Enough if one remembers there is more blood in it that book than in Saw 1 and 2 combined.
27. 2008-09-08 09:13  
W're so need to build a new country. Gay country! Where the flag is in rainbow colors, and the rainbow will always up in the sky... The law will be definitely slaunted and versatile :D But i wonder there must be plenty of drama going on :) Yeah, it's the way to live our life, let's do that!
28. 2008-09-08 10:10  
Comment #29 was deleted by its author
30. 2008-09-08 11:52  
A sign of immaturity, racism, narrow-minded third world country and uneducated people. Sadly.. I live in Indonesia and the badly spread news have indeed affected all LGBT in Indonesia. People will likely see us in a negative way because of the pressure which media has given.

Crime has been part in a society ever since. As far as I remember, this is the first crime committed by a "later-the-world-know" that Ryan is a Gay man. It is worsen by the media by emphasizing Ryan's gayness. It sounds like, "Oh, Gosh.. How cruel that guy is. He cut his victim's body all over and grounded them behind his own house. AND HE'S GAY!! OH MY GAWD! GAAAAYYYYYY~!!!!!". Seriously, the media sounds like that.

Now tell me about other murderers. Will you spare them because they're not gay and arrest all gays in Indonesia because of Ryan?!

Cheap-skate info-tainment.
31. 2008-09-08 12:57  
Since most homosexuals are actually known to be gentle and kind spirits most would argue that this is more of a case about the cruelties of Islam. We all know that it is Muslims, not homosexuals, who are known throughout the civilised world to be cruel, deviant and sadistic. One only needs look at the Middle East, Pakistan, or parts of Asia and Africa to see where the real atrocities occur. Suicide bombers, honour killing, violence and mutilation of women, public beheadings and stonings - need I go on?
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34. 2008-09-08 13:38  
Guys... if you feel angry that the media link this guy's murders with the fact that he's gay, you're right. But then don't link them with the fact that he's a Muslim !! It's illogical and poor thinking in both cases, can't you see that ?
You don't have to be a psychological expert to see that the co-existence of gayness and openly homophobic Islam-based conditioning in a guy who was probably not very stable in the first place is likely to be an explosive cocktail. Contradictions in hearts, brains and souls create tensions, and tensions find ways to release themselves if we don't a) acknowledge them and b) channel them appropriately.
And, Khankelly (post 24)... by whom are homosexuals "known to be gentle and kind" ? Sorry but this is in your dreams only. We are NOT gentle and kind. We are NOT horrible, b-i-t-c-h-y (that's to avoid fridae's ridiculous censorship), and potential murderers either. We are human beings so we share the qualities and flaws of our species !! The only thing that makes us different is the fact that we are born with a sexual preference which most societies reject and condemn. If anything, this blatant injustice has every reason to make us the opposite of "gentle and kind" !! However it is so deeply rooted in our subcionscious that we INTEGRATE it, which means that gays have homophobia in them too. Of course it's a source of endless tension and we all have to learn how to deal with it if we can.
Yes, gays are in their own complicated way, conditionned to be homophobic.A sad but undisputable fact which can be observed quite often on this "comments" board.
Comment #35 was deleted by its author
36. 2008-09-08 17:54  
Comrades, let's not get too worked up over these shitty toadstools. They only thrive in a pile of shit and darkness, but deadly poisonous.

Yes, that's what these people are.
37. 2008-09-09 00:17  
People.. need this conversation always end up in a racism frenzy? Like seriously, we should live in a world without Colours, without people who themselves decide what's wrong and what's right? Who made this decisions? Heterosexuals, Homosexualz... we're still people, so who DIED to make them GOD to decide if we go Hell or Heaven? Life's too short to be so judgmental al da time.. Let's not let this news seperates us coz of our skin colours or our racial backgrounds or our religious beliefz.. coz the day will come, where we'll all be judged.. not by humans.. So till that day, learn to love ourselves and not let the medias judge us just coz we're gay.. Probably they're just jealous that homosexualz are always da better dressed people..
38. 2008-09-09 02:33  
Is he a killerl because he is gay or because he is a Koran teacher ???

Some might ask it this way ...
39. 2008-09-09 02:38  
post #28 ... its meant as a sophistic statement.

to assume some is a killer because he is gay is pure stupidity
40. 2008-09-10 11:51  
Every person's mental makeup is influenced by many factors in one's life. Any one or more thing can take dominance.

Sexuality by and large exude influences over the level of kink and adventure one chooses to indulge in sexually. Religious beliefs and the guilt associated with it, accompanied by the appropriate "punishment" for such related sins, also determine how one will act out in tandem. Both these apply to all humans, not just a group.

Culturally of cos, there are those who shoot and bury their own sons and daughters for embarassing the family name, but usually has roots in religious fundamental traditions. They see nothing wrong nor immoral in killing for their own religious beliefs.

Humans are complicated animals. A killer's mind is even more so, as with anyone who harbours and festers his/her own discrimination against his/her fellow men. Human darkness is as old as Mother Nature itself. Beware.
41. 2008-09-11 04:33  
What a homophobic and violent world we live in. I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty sick of being called 'deviant'

Common sense no longer exists, it seems
42. 2008-09-12 14:50  
Love love love, lets forgive those ignorant ones for they really do not know what they are saying or doing. We should not bring our level down and drown ourselves with those who do not understand the true meaning of love. Cheers.

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