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Post submitted by former Senior International Policy Advocate Jeremy Kadden

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and 35 other members of Congress sent a letter to the Indonesian government, calling on them to put a stop to recent government-sponsored anti-LGBTQ actions there.

The letter was written in response to a number of horrific reports out of Indonesia, including the arrest of more than 140 men suspected of homosexuality on May 21. The police released several photographs of the arrested men to the media, exposing their identities to family and friends and potentially putting them at risk of social ostracism and violence. 

A few days later, on May 23, two gay men in Aceh province were publicly caned and were photographed and humiliated in front of a crowd of spectators. The following day, the police force in West Java announced plans to establish a task force to specifically target LGBTQ people, with the police chief calling homosexuality “a disease,” and that LGBTQ people will “face the law and heavy social sanctions.”

The Congressional letter sends a clear message to the Indonesian government that they “cannot turn a blind eye to the persecution of minority communities, whether women, religious minorities, or LGBTQ people.” It warns the Indonesians that “such attacks can metastasize and put an entire country’s stability, security, and foreign investments at risk.” It therefore urges the government there to “exercise its responsibility to investigate and put a stop to repressive and discriminatory actions against minorities” while asking them to “affirmatively protect the civil and human rights of all its citizens, no matter their identities, sexual orientations, genders, religions, or religious views.”

“The horrific violence targeting LGBTQ people in Indonesia is part of a troubling yet growing trend driven by hate and fear around the world, including in places like Chechnya, Bangladesh, and elsewhere,” HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement. “With an absence of action from the Trump administration on these human rights abuses, we are grateful for Rep. Maloney's leadership in calling for an end to this violence and putting Indonesia officials on notice that the eyes of the world are closely watching."

“Indonesia is an important leader and regional ally in Southeast Asia – and they have a responsibility over there to set a good example of what a democracy should look like, but lately they haven’t been living up to that responsibility,” Rep. Maloney said in a statement. “Oppressing your own citizens because of their religion, their gender, or their sexual orientation undermines democratic values and erodes civil society and I won’t stand for it.”

The full letter can be found here.

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