Indonesian LGBT+ community could face rise in harmful forced exorcisms under proposed law

The proposed Family Resilience Bill labels Indonesian LGBT+ people as 'deviant' and makes it mandatory to seek 'rehabilitation' treatment such as exorcisms.

A cartoon depicting a woman undergoing exorcism
Image: Illustration by FARRAZ TANDJOENG

The Indonesian LGBT+ community fear a stark rise in ‘forced exorcisms’ under the proposed RUU Ketahanan Keluarga (Family Resilience Bill), which labels queer people as ‘deviants’. 

Across the world, numerous policies are being put into place towards preventing the advertisement and practice of conversion therapy. However, under the Indonesian authorities’ new law, LGBT+ people will be forced to undergo ‘rehabilitation’, including exorcisms and psychological treatments. 

Exorcisms performed on LGBT+ people have seen a steady increase over the years as various countries such as Chechnya and religious organisations continue to endorse this practice.

An Indonesian transgender woman spoke about how her family forced her into this harmful ritual as a way of purging. For nearly 20 years, Andin (her name has been changed by request) suffered due to this cruel abuse as her family sought to ‘cure’ her. This ‘treatment’ included being harassed with Koranic verses while trapped in a locked room for days on end and also covered in freezing cold water. 

Andin said, “Nothing changed after the exorcism. I’m still LGBT, but my family didn’t give up easily. It’s traumatising – the horror of that memory stays in my head.”

Dinda, another LGBT+ woman, detailed how her mother tricked her into visiting for a family reunion, only to stage an exorcism. She said, “My mom believed I was possessed by ghosts and that if I didn’t have an exorcism then the evil spirits would stay with me.”

The woman further expressed, “I get shivers every time my mum calls me. And I see the exorcist in my dreams. It left me very scared.”

Under Indonesian’s Family Resilience Bill, the practice of exorcisms would become mandatory. On February 27 2020, an LGBT+ woman, Kai Mata, called for public support towards stopping this new law. 

On social media, Kai shared, “I am Indonesian and I am also flaming gay. No laws will change that and neither will the hate and threats. I am here speaking out because it shouldn’t be so hard seeing two girls in love.”

At the end of the video, Kai asked for support of an online petition which will show Indonesian authorities that people are taking a stand against this new law. It currently has around 15,400 signatures.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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