Indonesian city to fine LGBT residents for disturbing ‘public order’

An Indonesian city plans to fine its gay and transgender residents 1m rupiah ($70) for disturbing “public order”, reflecting a rise in discrimination against the Muslim-majority nation’s small LGBT community.

This week, the city of Pariaman on Sumatra island passed a sweeping regulation banning “acts that are considered LGBT”.

The regulation forbids “immoral acts” between same-sex couples and prohibits residents from “acting as a transvestite”, but it offers few concrete examples of banned behaviour.

“Same-sex LGBT and transgender people will be subject to sanctions and fines if they disturb the public order,” said Fitri Nora, head of the local legislature.

Pariaman’s deputy mayor, Mardison Mahyudin, said the new rules were born out of “anxiety” about Indonesia’s LGBT community.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, except in Aceh province, which adheres to Islamic law.

Anti-LGBT demonstrations have taken place in several cities recently, including in the capital Jakarta, while authorities hosed down a group of transgender women in what they called a “mandatory bath”.

Several cities in West Sumatra province, including Pariaman, have taken steps to marginalise LGBT groups, and the provincial government called a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue.

Following the meeting, governor Irwan Prayitno said officials and concerned parties were searching for a province-wide solution to the “LGBT problem”. “At a minimum, we’re trying to prevent the population from increasing,” Prayitno said.

Critics say the LGBT minority is being used as a political punching bag in the run-up to 2019 general election.