To learn more about how Shariah impacts the homosexuals, click here

Homosexuals Battle Medieval Bylaw

Edy “Echa” Saputra is the head of Violey Grey, an organization fighting for the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. The Indonesian province of Aceh “is known for implementing Islamic sharia law, which allows no place for the GLBT community.” Says Saptura, “You can see it when the sharia police raid beauty salons. They get physically and verbally abusive.” Aceh’s bylaws state that anyone engaging in acts of homosexuality be lashed 100 times, fined up to 1 kilogram of gold (Rp 39,180,000 or US$36,050 at current market price), or imprisoned for up to 100 months.



The Jakarta Post
January 21, 2010
Aceh, Jakarta

”God created humans in pairs, but nowhere does it say the pair has to be male and female, both male or both female,” says Edy “Echa” Saputra.

Echa is a transgender who heads the Violet Grey organization, established in 2007 by gay and transgender activists in Aceh.

The group fights for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community in the notoriously conservative province, Echa says.

Its main purpose, he goes on, is to provide an understanding to the wider Aceh society that the GLBT community is part of the social fabric and its members have the same rights as everyone else.

“We’re making efforts to raise awareness through the HIV/AIDS issue, because if we get straight to the main issue, people might turn on us,” he says.

Violet Grey has around 300 members, including gays, bisexuals and transgenders, but no lesbians.

“It’s harder to detect whether someone is lesbian,” Echa claims.

“They’re more reserved than the others.”

Homosexuality is still frowned upon by most Indonesians, he says, and even more so in Aceh. One of the factors for this is the stereotype held by the public that the GLBT community is a disgrace to society.

Echa says members of this community are stigmatized and marginalized, so they form their own groups.

“We face discrimination frequently and get ridiculed by people with different views about homosexuality,” he says.

“And Aceh in particular is known for implementing Islamic sharia law, which allows no place for the GLBT community.

“You can see it when the sharia police raid beauty salons,” he goes on. “They get physically and verbally abusive.”

Echa says many members of the transgender community in the province work in beauty salons.

“They’re physically male, so according to sharia law they’re not allowed to work within women’s surroundings, such as beauty salons,” he says, adding that is the reason for salons getting raided so often.

Other members of the transgender community are sex workers, Echa goes on, adding “That’s why the GLBT communities have been stigmatized.”

Many lack a proper education due to the stigma, and consequently can only work in the informal sector, he says.

“They become reclusive and refuse to go to school or university because they get mocked and discriminated against,” he says.

Echa adds he hopes members of the transgender and gay community will join Violet Grey to prove to the public that they are no different than anyone else.

Besides gathering at the Violet Grey office, the group also meets at places around Banda Aceh, such as coffee stalls popular with youths.

“The coffee stalls are a nice place to interact because anyone can come and sit down there,” Echa says.

He adds the inclusion of homosexuality as a so-called “moral crime” in Aceh’s sharia law has cast a pall over the province.

A draconian provincial bylaw recently approved by the Aceh legislature, but not yet endorsed by the governor, stipulates homosexuality is a crime.

Article 33 of this incredibly medieval bylaw calls for anyone engaging in homosexual acts to be lashed 100 times, fined up to 1 kilogram of gold (Rp 39,180,000 or US$36,050 at current market price) or imprisoned for up to 100 months.


 

To view a listing of the articles within this section, please click here.