A concert to be held in a public park in Yogyakarta (or Jogjakarta), Indonesia for LGBTIQ artists to showcase their talents and to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) last Saturday had to be cancelled after their permit was revoked, organisers told Fridae. Diversity Stage was to be the finale of a three-part IDAHO programme to be held on the evening of Saturday, May 22, at Sasono Hinggil, a large hall situated in Alun-alun Selatan (the South Square) in a public park.
Yuventius Nicky Nurman, a co-organiser of the event, told Fridae in a statement that on the afternoon of Friday, May 21, a representative of Sasono Hinggil went to the office of the IDAHO planning committee and requested that the building-usage permit that Sasono Hinggil had previously issued be returned.
Organisers say they were told by the representative said that the local police had officially asked the venue to rescind their permit citing violent threats received from Islam Defenders Front (aka Front Pembela Islam / FPI) – the same group that forced the cancellation of the ILGA Asia conference in Surabaya and the Human Rights training event at Depok, near Jakarta.
Islam Defenders Front (FPI) flyer and banner condemning the IDAHO event.
The flyer reads: "Dismiss them! We strongly reject International Day Against
Homophobia here in Alun-alun Selatan, Saturday, 22 May 2010."
Photos courtesy of IDAHO Jogjakarta organisers.
On the morning of Saturday, May 22, a small group from the IDAHO committee went to the police headquarters to confirm what they were told. The police verified the existence of the FPI threat; and the organisers were given an official letter, and oral explanation as to why the police will not issue a permit for Diversity Stage. The reasons as provided by the event organisers to Fridae:
1. Allowing Diversity Stage to be staged was "not conducive to public safety and order."
2. Referring to similar events in Surabaya and Depok as precedents, the "highly contentious content of the event had caused clashes."
3. "The police had to maintain public order for the sake of a conducive atmosphere to support the then-upcoming local election."
The statement continued: “The police also made it very clear that should we pursue our event in spite of everything, they will not be able to guarantee the safety of the attendees. Pursue at your own risk, that was essentially what they said.”
Organisers then decided to cancel Diversity Stage and in its place, staged a mass cycling event given that Alun-alun Selatan is known for tandem-cycling.
“It was a Saturday evening and there were lots of tandem bicycles available for rent. We thought why not use them to our advantage. We could still protest by showing up in spite of the threat, and we could do so in an activity that is common in that area. That way the police would have no reason to kick us out,” Nurman told Fridae.
Photos courtesy of IDAHO Jogjakarta organisers.
Organisers say close to 50 people showed up wearing white shirts to mark their peaceful intent and protest the police's inaction by cycling in the area as they chanted Indonesia's national anthem, and songs related to their struggle.
But that was not to be either.
Some of the participants had received text messages while they were cycling that members of FPI were on their way to break up the event.
Nurman described the incident: “At that moment we took the decision to disperse in order to avoid unnecessary violent clash. We managed to escape. Some of us stayed and blended into the growing crowd. We saw FPI members coming in two jeeps, a few trucks, and at least a dozen motorcycles. They were wielding steel bars. We were lucky we got that text message warning.”
The determined 25-year-old graduate of University of Wollongong in Australia, who said he proposed the cycling event as a sign of protest after being inspired by what he heard about the recent Pink Dot rally in Singapore, is not giving up the fight.
“What happened to us is nothing new here in Indonesia. ILGA Asia went through what we went through. But we did something different.
"The Pink Dot rally gave us an example of how we can fight back. It showed us that even a simple picnic can send a bold message out. So we fought back the Jogja way. We cycled. We will continue our struggle. You will hear more from us. We are not done yet. We hope our little stubborn attempt will send a message to our friends out there that activism lives in Indonesia.”
i still don't understand why anyone would go to a sauna in penang when there are so many great beaches to make out in and so many great outdoor places to go explore
if you are in Singapore take that special gal or girl and go kiss him on Mount Faber, go rollar blading on North Beach and take it outside with that yummy special someone
by the way, I think David29's cat looks like the Chesire cat in Alice in Wonderland
I feel sorry and sympathy for the gays in Jogja and Surabaya who just trying to voice their existence. It is a good start and somebody just has to do it to create a better living and understanding to the gay community. I believe, Indonesia need pressure from the international to against this thug organization called FPI as they are more like an organize crime kind of group.
Or they actually a whole closeted faggot who actually jerk off watching gay porn quietly... you never know. From existing case, usually the meanest bully to gay is usually gay himself... Carpe diem people
Muslims claim theirs a religion of peace: I guess we are all supposed not to notice how often it’s most ardent followers resort to violence.
Religion flies you into skyscrapers.
Religious extremists really show the reasons why many of us fear religions. They want to force their beliefs onto others. It confirms my belief that most religions cannot have any rational foundation. The believers are herded like sheep and kept under control by sheep dogs and then fleeced by the priests and mullahs.
The old ways are no longer needed.
Share your stories, tell your friends, tell everyone you know and love.
Every single one of us can make significant change.
1. We were threatened by a very specific fundamentalist group, namely FPI that is infamous for their violent antics.
2. The problem is that we did not get the protection we deserved from the Police.
3. A large majority who came to our event were Muslims. (I myself am a Catholic -- though I am a Catholic just like how Madonna is a Catholic.) So I do mind comments with generalization. Some of the cyclist wore Hijab. Wearing a Hijab or believing in the one and only God, DOES NOT mean you cannot fight for Human Rights.
4. WE were not protesting against Islam. We were protesting against religious thugs, THEIR oppressive belief, and THEIR violence.
So, on behalf of my Muslim compatriots, we are in this struggle as a community of human beings. This is our human concern; we understand that very well.
We would very much like to move beyond the religious vilification paradigm. We want to work together to make sure that Human Rights is served given the available legal instruments. We do not believe in the eradication of beliefs. We value pluralism. We intend to find creative solutions within our pluralistic society.
Your campaign ideals sound really sensible ... and you will win in the end. Good luck with it!
We have a lot to learn from people with your sort of wisdom.
I'm against those religious thugs.
We should get back to our muslim's teaching, that is listen to others, accept other people views, and protect the faith (believe in God and Messengers, all living beings are created by God and only God can judge you !!)
Be strong and your supporters are there in Indonesian community. And plan to work closely with your non-supporters. As Yuventius said, "We intend to find creative solutions within our pluralistic society."
Are sure you can bring your lover to Mt Faber and kiss him openly like straights? First, you get staring eyes from passerby, then complaint to the authority, followby police investigation. If a couple of 'gay' can stir such attention, what if there are many gay couples? Of course there is the famous Fort road in Singapore where gays meet in the public. Why Fort road? Because its remote from the public (straights). What if meeting gets 'hot'? Most Singaporean has no privacy rather staying with parents. So, sex in the public? Sauna is the only place where gays are free to meet. Not until the day when gays are generally accepted, then more gays can come out of the sauna, bring his lover to mt Faber and kisses him.
Ronmac, it is very nice of you that gays are welcome in Canada. However, born and grow in our motherland, there are many bondages. Sad to say, migranting is the last resort.