Indonesian Security Forces Vow to Purge LGBT People From Their Ranks

Top brass say gay soldiers won't be able to serve the country properly.
translated by Annisa Nurul Aziza
Jakarta, ID
Indonesia LGBT
Soldiers approach an Indonesian Air Force transport aircraft with their weapons drawn as they take part in the Jalak Sakti military exercise held at the Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base in Blang Bintang, Aceh province on Sept. 8, 2020. Photo:

Indonesia's military has vowed to purge LGBT soldiers from its ranks in an escalating campaign that has spread to the police force and alarmed human rights groups.

Leading the charge is Maj. Gen. Burhan Dahlan, who commanded military judges to order a number of removals and has railed against the community's "deviant" behavior.

"I've submitted around 20 reports to the court regarding same-sex relations between soldiers, military doctors and middle-ranking officers," he told local outlet Kumparan.


Homosexuality is not illegal under Indonesian law but authorities in the Muslim-majority country have launched periodic crackdowns against the LGBT community, which also faces discrimination in everyday life.

The move in the armed forces come after the high-profile dismissal of a chief private, identified only as P, on Oct. 14. The Semarang Military Court in Central Java sentenced him to one year in prison for having a same-sex relationship with another soldier. He was also dishonorably discharged.

Amnesty International called the sentence "unjust" and said the campaign against LGBT soldiers must stop.

"No-one should be persecuted based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation," Amnesty International Indonesia's Executive Director Usman Hamid said this week.

Now the crackdown is moving to the police force. In response to Dahlan's order, National Police spokesman Brigadier General Awi Setiyono said they are reviewing reports against LGBT officers.

"If it's true that one of our members is gay, the police will take firm action against them because they violated our regulations and code of ethics," Setiyono was quoted as saying in Detik.

On Tuesday, local media reported that a gay police brigadier general, known by his initial EP, was removed from his position last year. The case resurfaced and made headlines after the military order.

Indonesian NGO the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) said that the right to receive protection from discrimination is enshrined in the country's laws.

"This has been stated in the constitution, not some Western values that most [conservative] people are concerned about," ICJR Executive Director Erasmus Napitupulu told VICE News on Wednesday.

He added that soldiers "should be treated the same as heterosexuals, and shouldn't be punished just because they have different sexual orientations. It violates the law and the Constitution."