The following is an excerpt of an opinion article published in The Jakarta Post on Dec 12, 2011. The author Abdul Rohman is a faculty member at Indonesian Islamic University, USAID Scholar and Msgr.
It is therefore imperative to foster dialogue between religious groups and gay communities to bridge the difference. Instead of renouncing gay people as deviant, religious groups should embrace them and learn how to synchronize their situation with Islam.
It is religion’s responsibility to bring homosexuals closer to God regardless of their sexual preferences. On the other side, gay communities need assistance from religious groups to enable them to practice their religions and express sexual preferences safely. This back and forth process is challenging but even small steps by discussing this issue with moderate stakeholders will bring powerful results. Instead of pointing out different points of view, they should seek common grounds to disseminate peace and resolve conflict within society.
The notion of being gay and Muslim at the same time is very tough when we see how stereotypical views about gay people are still present in our society. Most people grossly conflate gayness with pedophilia, promiscuity, social pathology and other stigmas.
In the Indonesian context, although the mainstream media still represent gays as fun-loving and with less positive images, increasing public awareness and acceptance of gayness as a part of society through television is promising since most of people still rely on it as a major information and entertainment source.
To bring the picture to the real world, every gay person should conduct PR work for their own community by showing the compatibility between Islam and homosexuality. Homophobia persists and people easily pin a negative label on gay people because of a lack of information and opportunities to interact with them.