A newly proposed law in Indonesia would punish LGBTQ people with forced exorcisms as a way to “cure” them of what is perceived as sexual deviancy in the Muslim-majority country.
… it is still widely believed that being gay or transgender is the result of a person being possessed by evil spirits — and that these can be expelled by religious ceremony and prayer.
Now, conservative Islamic lawmakers have tabled a so-called “Family Resilience” bill, which critics decry as sexist and anti-LGBT.
Gay and transgender people would be forced to undergo “rehabilitation” — an umbrella term likely to include exorcisms and other “conversion treatments” — to purge what bill advocates say is a sexual deviancy.
“Rehabilitation” is quite the euphemism for faith-based anti-LGBTQ violence, the kind that conservative Christians have promoted and exported for years, under the false belief that being gay or trans is a problem that requires a solution. That’s not to say Indonesia’s plan came from the Christian world. Rather, no one should believe this is some medieval response from a backwards nation.
The Agence France-Presse article, republished in the Bangkok Post, quotes one anonymous victim as saying she was locked in a room for days, “doused with freezing water,” and taken in for an exorcism. She’s still transgender. But she’s been traumatized from the whole experience.
The bill has only been proposed, not passed. That’s the silver lining here. And Indonesia has a history of faith-based legislation that fizzled out. In 2019, the same legislature debated a bill that would have criminalized pre-marital sex with a year in prison. It would have also banned abortions, cohabitation, and insulting the president and Islam. Thankfully, it didn’t pass. In 2018, Indonesia launched a “heresy app” that allowed users to report non-believers like a modern-day witch hunt. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t resulted in any prosecutions (though I could be wrong).
So maybe this bill won’t go anywhere. But the fact that it’s being considered at all sends a clear message: If you’re LGBTQ, they may come after you and torture you. You’re not safe.
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