For the Indonesian army, homosexuality remains punishable by prison

“In the Penal Code of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) there is no article that regulates sexual orientation”, highlighted Koran Tempo. And yet, on June 6, the website of the Supreme Court announced the dismissal of two soldiers, who were also sentenced to terms of eight and nine months in prison.

Already in 2020, 16 soldiers had been dismissed and imprisoned for the same reason. The military court rendered this verdict on the basis of an internal regulation which punishes LGBT behavior because “they go against military discipline and constitute a serious violation within the army”.

Koran Tempo asserts that there is no correlation between the choice of sexual orientation and the professionalism of a soldier. The daily cites as an example the American army, which, in 2012, promoted to a high rank an LGBT person, a lesbian, Brigadier General Tammy Smith.

Traumatic practices

This kind of spurious argument, in violation of the Indonesian Constitution, has been used for decades by the army to carry out virginity tests on candidates and soldiers’ fiancées, because “Even though there is no correlation between a woman’s virginity and her ability to serve in the military, virginity is an indicator of her morality,” declared Commander Moeldoko, now the president’s chief of staff. In July 2021, these tests were suspended by a simple “technical instructions”, without any officer having ever been held responsible for these traumatic practices for women.

Koran Tempo points out, however, another step forward against discrimination and stigmatization in the ranks of the army: in March 2022, the new commander-in-chief, Andika Perkasa, abolished the provision which prohibited the descendants of members of the Indonesian Communist Party, hunted down during the coup of General Suharto in 1965, to enter the army.

“Andika should do the same for LGBT people. Especially since sexual orientation is a private matter,” pleads the daily.

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