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30 Dec 2022

Indonesian soldiers jailed for having gay sex as anti-LGBTQ crackdown continues

The country appears to be becoming an increasingly dangerous place for the queer community.

 

Trans activist and Harvard student Rodrigo Ventocilla died in “extremely disturbing circumstances” after being arrested in Indonesia.
Ventocilla was on his honeymoon when he died in a hospital in Denpasar, Bali, on 11 August. He was 32.
Student newspaper The Harvard Crimson reported his death on Wednesday (24 August). It said he had been detained for for alleged drug possession upon his arrival in Bali, five days before his death.
According to the paper, Ventocilla’s family alleged he was arrested in “an act of racial discrimination and transphobia”, deprived of basic rights and subjected to police violence. 
During this time, the man’s family and lawyers were “kept in the dark about his condition”, The Harvard Crimson reports. 
Ventocilla was pursing a master’s degree in public administration in international development at Harvard Kennedy School, where he was a member of the school’s class of 2023. 
He was also a founding member of the Peruvian trans rights advocacy organisation, Diversidades Trans Masculinas. 
A statement released on Tuesday (23 August) saw the families of Ventocilla and his spouse, Sebastían Marallano, call on the Peruvian justice system “to properly investigate the human rights violations of Rodrigo and Sebastian and to guarantee truth, justice and reparation”, the newspaper reports. 
The following day, Harvard Kennedy School dean Douglas W Elmendorf said the university “supports the family’s call for an immediate and thorough investigation and for public release of all relevant information”.
Elmendorf said he had received a statement from Ventocilla’s family “with their description of extremely disturbing circumstances surrounding Rodrigo’s death”.
He added: “The statement from Rodrigo’s family raises very serious questions that deserve clear and accurate answers.
“Harvard Kennedy School supports the family’s call for an immediate and thorough investigation and for public release of all relevant information, and the school stands with all of Rodrigo’s friends and colleagues and with the LGBTQ+ community.”
Bali Police blame death on drugs
According to the Bali Police and a Facebook post from Diversidades Trans Masculinas, Ventocilla was detained on 6 August upon arrival at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar, for possession of a herb grinder.
Bali Police claimed officers found other items suspected to contain marijuana and two pills in Ventocilla’s luggage, newspaper Radar Bali reported.
Ventocilla’s family said he was arrested for possession of prescription drugs used as mental health medication.
They said Ventocilla and his partner were deprived of “vital human rights such as health, freedom, access to legal defence” in a statement reported by The Harvard Crimson.
Ventocilla’s partner arrived in Bali on a separate flight and was detained by police without charge after attempting to help his spouse, the family claim, and was hospitalised days after being detained by police, who reportedly demanded upwards of $200,000 to free the couple.
Indonesian news outlet Radar Bali reported that Ventocilla was brought by authorities to Bhayangkara Hospital after experiencing stomach pain and vomiting, and after his condition deteriorated he was transported to Sanglah Central General Hospital.
A Bali Police official told local media that Ventocilla died after consuming unsealed drugs on 8 August, while he was in police custody.
“The cause of death is a complete failure of body function that causes impaired kidney function and impaired liver and nervous system function to the patient’s brain,” Setianto said, according to a translation of his statement to detikBali reported by the Crimson.
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But Ventocilla’s family cast doubt on this version of events, and have called for an autopsy.
“The Indonesian police obstructed access to the hospital at all times, to the lawyers hired by the family, as well as the Harvard students who came to their aid,” the family said.
Ventocilla’s family called on the Peruvian Foreign Ministry to “assume its responsibility for neglecting its duties” and to conduct an investigation into “the actions and omissions” of Julio Eduardo Tenorio Pereyra, the head of consular services for the embassy.
“Nothing will give us back Rodrigo nor the integrity of Sebastian, however, our demand for justice and truth also pursues the objective of improving the quality of the service of assistance to our fellow citizens abroad without preferences of class, gender, ethnicity or others,” the family said.
Diversidades Trans Masculinas posted on Facebook to say: “As an organisation, we are deeply sorry for the passing of Rodrigo, who in life was a companion, friend and husband… we will be vigilant to make sure justice is served.”
Bali Police has reportedly launched an investigation into Ventocilla’s death. It was approached for comment.

Two Indonesian soldiers have been kicked out of the army and sentenced to seven months in jail for having gay sex.

Gay sex is currently legal in most of the country however it is banned for members of the military.

Under new legislation in the process of being implemented, gay sex will be illegal for everyone in Indonesia as there will be a ban on sex outside of marriage. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Indonesia.

The ruling against the soldiers reportedly stated that “The defendants’ acts of committing deviant sexual behavior with the same sex was very inappropriate because as soldiers, the defendants should be an example for the people in the defendants’ surrounding environment” and declared that their “actions were very much against the law or any religious provisions.”

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Indonesia?

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Indonesia? Let’s take a look at some of the key equality indicators.

Is homosexuality legal in Indonesia?

Pretty much. In most of Indonesia, homosexuality is not criminalised. But there are some parts of the country that operate under Sharia law, which criminalises same-sex sexual activity.

Are there anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Indonesia?

No. There are no protections from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

Is there Marriage Equality in Indonesia?

No. There is no legal recognition for same-sex relationships.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Indonesia?

Indonesia is a socially conservative country. Homosexuality is seen as a taboo subject.

Homophobia is systemic. It appears that censorship restrictions and public decency laws are being used to target and persecute LGBTQ people.

LGBTQ people conceal their sexuality.

读者回应

1. 2022-08-28 06:04  
A through investigation is needed, so that the worlds Gay population does not boycott this country. It could cost Indonesia literally millions of $ in lost tourist money. The arresting officers and staff should be questioned as to their possible "homophobia". If this investigation is fair, then the guilty parties will be dealt with. John
2. 2022-09-20 18:14  
I'm from Indonesia. I don't know if Indonesia is a favorite desination for LGBTQ though.
3. 2022-12-07 01:01  
Religion.......! the worlds worst evil, and cause of wars.
4. 2022-12-07 11:29  
I would have to respectfully disagree with johnl regarding boycotting Indonesia. If there is a strong boycott in place, Indonesian citizens will be forced to respond to these intangible laws. They need to rise up and remove the homophobic Islamic religious leaders who are creating these ridiculous laws. Sharia laws, (and people that make them), need to be eradicated, they are archaic, out-of-date, and don't work in a modern, healthy society.
I realize that boycotting Indonesia may cause economic hardship, but people won't stand up and demand change when things are going ok. Unfortunately, you have to get people angry to evoke change.
Religion has no place in government or making laws.
5. 2022-12-07 16:08  
Who wants to go to Indonesia anyway? If you guys haven't already read, droves of Aussie backpackers who used to call Bali their playground, are heading to Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui instead. Why smoke weed on the sly and risk getting caught in Indonesia when it's totally legal in Thailand? Likewise, in Thailand one can fuck whoever one wants as long as it's between consenting adults. So, why give a shit about the draconian laws in Indonesia? You all know it's going to kill their economy eventually and when those laws start hitting the pockets of merchants who rely on tourism to make a buck, rest assured, the riots will start.
修改於2022-12-07 16:09:35
6. 2022-12-07 21:40  
The great irony here is that in the time that Pak Soeharto was president political freedoms were minimal to non existent and any serious political opposition criticism or dissidence was crushed. This also included right wing religious nut bags who were kept under control and viewed as being equally dangerous because of their aspirations for an islamic caliphate and its associated potential for terrorism. However, at this same time personal freedoms and self expression and a fairly vibrant lgbtqi community (for the most part discreetly) existed and flourised þecause Pak Soeharto really had no interest in whom slept with whom or how camp the hosts were on their soap opera and game shows TV. Roll forward 25 year s and this is the social compact that an illiberal democracy has delivered. The social conservatives and the religoligists now that they are unleashed have found a way to legitimatise.a war of oppression and stripping away of human rights from its vilified and marginalised minority groups and couched it in being a moral code that is good for all and for the country when the real targets are people like us. I have heard many times now from many of my Indo friends that they miss those days of Soehartos presidency and democracy has been a dud experience. Their reasons for saying that are many. And in light of this recent development I am inclined to agree with them
7. 2022-12-07 23:08  
I had always wanted to visit Bali but NOW its off my list! I have no desire to support and economy and government that is so backwards and discriminates.... It is 2022 and yet many places in the world seem to be losing ground and going backwards! This is sad news and it WILL come back to hurt their economy and standing in an ever changing world. As others here have mentioned, there are MANY other nice open places to visit that get it... like Thailand. Go there.
8. 2022-12-08 00:23  
I, too, disagree with John. A boycott is both reasonable and morally defensible. I have spent a lot of time in Bali. The population there is mostly Hindu, not Moslem, hence a more relaxed social atmosphere. However, it is still part of Indonesia and will not receive my tourist dollars again. Very sad. Drew62 is correct. Religion is the world's greatest evil.
9. 2022-12-10 05:53  
First Covid, and now this!
I fear for my gay friends in Indonesia. As a Westerner who has visited that country since the '70s and lived there (in East Java, not Bali) more or less permanently from 2013 until Covid sent me home, I have seen more than most how the widespread homophobia of the great majority of Muslims has hurt the GLBT sub-culture - oddly, under Soeharto gays seemed to have MORE freedom than they do now under the so-called democracy, even though they often had to live and operate under the mainstream of life there. Everything was more free and easy than it has become now, in Java almost all the gay discos and other meeting places the local gays would meet in have closed down, police regularly visit the popular 'beats' and the society in general has become so much more conservative and anti-gay. Even Bali has felt this repression in recent years. I've. not hung out there (Bali) for a long time as my long-term partner lives elsewhere, but I do, or rather did visit often on my way to and from Australia. Now, not so much. Covid did a lot of damage to the 'scene' which hasn't really recovered. These repressive laws are a BIG setback. I have six friends who planned to visit Bali this year but have now changed their itineraries to go elsewhere, most to Thailand.

Me, I will be going back to East Java in February '23, but my new plan is now to fly to Bali, maybe stay overnight, hang out in Sanur (I have friends there and anyway my Indonesian partner will be in Bali to meet me, also he isn't happy with me going out to party) and not visit the few gay venues still open in Seminyak etc as I fear the risks to my well-being are just too great. Corruption is everywhere in Indonesia and it could take only one trouble-making person with a few connections to put my safety and security at risk. Sad, but ias I see it t's the way things will go there from next year.

What on earth is Jokowi trying to do to the country's (and especially Bali's) economy and the not small amount of money the tourists spend there? Surely he knows that Bali (which is Hindu and not Muslim) will be the place most badly affected by these ridiculous laws. His Vice-President is a fundamentalist imam and may have religious motives in his very clear agenda to possibly create the first die-hard Muslim caliphate in Southeast Asia. As others here have written here, gay tourists are now looking elsewhere to spend their money - Thailand (as well as other countries) have taken great leaps in recognizing the gay sub-culture and even same-sex marriages while Indonesia just seems to go backward.

As for a boycott, I have mixed feelings. In some ways, I think it would hurt our own more than the economy - but then I've lived long enough to know that money talks, and talks BIG. This is a truism in today's harsh real world, and we have to understand this.

I think enough of my "serious" musings for this post. Next year my Indonesian partner and I will be discussing future options for him (and for us). We have been together since 2013 and I want to do what I can to secure his future and his safety. He has a degree and a good career so immigration to Australia may be one option. Time will tell and we will see - but as gay tourists we must do what we can to help our friends and our sub-culture there.

Thank you for reading all this, it's much too long but I wanted to say what I believe and feel and think. Best regards, DANN.
10. 2022-12-30 11:33  
WOW!

You guys are great contributors to this thread! Excellent, very insightful, and valid thoughts. Please keep contributing to the "Reader's Comments" guys! It is great to hear your voice.

Cheers and Happy New Year!! 🎊🎉 🙏🏼🙏🏼 👍🏼
11. 2022-12-31 04:41  
Indonesian soldiers jailed for having gay sex - yet another clear message from Indonesia that "gay is no good"! Some years ago I had a fairly long relationship with an ABRI (armed forces) officer who told me he knew of many soldiers at all levels of the army from privates to senior officers at all levels up to generals, who were gay or enjoyed sex with other men, with the authorities mostly turning their backs on all that, the usual "don't ask, don't tell" policy so popular with the American military). Now the backlash is extending to government and military, which means yet more restrictions. Made all the worse by the fact that homosexuality is not officially criminalized there and while social disapproval of gays and gay sex is strong (typical for an Islamic society), until quite recently gay men and women were able to be quite free in the culture, if not entirely visible in public.

None of this augurs well for gay tourism in places like Bali, all the more so from mid January as Indonesia will surely be welcoming the mobs of mainland Chinese visitors who will be flocking to Bali and Jakarta, with Covid infections sure to follow.

Between the antigay actions we are now seeing and the very real danger of getting Covid in Bali, 2023 promises to be a fairly quiet time on the Bali gay scene. I for one won't be going there... Best regards, DANN.

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