General News

Indonesian LGBTQ+ activists targeted by conversion therapist

Rachel Badham February 22, 2021

A handful of LGBTQ+ activists in Indonesia have reported being harassed by a social media account which offered conversion therapy, with some of the victims already having been subjected to the controversial form of treatment in the past. According to Asia One, a message was sent to a number of prominent LGBTQ+ activists in the country, which read: “It’s not too late to return to God. God has not left you. Indonesia is a Muslim country, and we reject all sins. Let us help you drive Satan out from inside of you and you can become normal again.” 

The messages were sent from an Instagram account which has since been deleted. The messages also included a link to a website which offered conversion therapy in the form of electric shocks, exorcism and ‘corrective’ rape.  Acep Gates, a 25-year-old activist who was targeted, said he was left “shocked and angry” after the incident. Gates had already been subjected to conversion therapy twice, which he said left him “depressed” and needing therapy. 

Pelangi Nusantara, an LGBTQ+ rights advocacy group, has set up a petition to have the website shut down, saying: “With enough support, we want the Ministry of Law and Human Rights to ban all forms of conversion therapy in Indonesia.” Same-sex relations are legal everywhere in Indonesia except the province of Aceh, where homosexuality is punishible by flogging. In January, two men were publicly flogged 77 times for allegedly having sex. LGBTQ+ people have also been targeted by authorities in other Indonesian regions, with a handful of men being arrested last year in Kuningan for hosting what police described as a ‘gay party’. 

Amnesty International Indonesia has condemned the treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the country, saying: “No-one deserves to be brutalised and humiliated in this way…Targeting and criminalising people because of their real or perceived sexual orientation is inhumane.”