On March 22, 2016 the San Diego Union Tribune reported: JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Gays are a contagion, declares the banner in bold red and black lettering that hangs on the sidewalk of a bustling neighborhood in the Indonesian capital close to embassies, luxury hotels and the homes of some of the country’s leaders.
Erected by an ultra-conservative Islamic group, it’s the latest manifestation of a virulent campaign of denigration against gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities that has entered the mainstream and is testing Indonesia’s image for moderation.
Echoing venomous headlines in conservative newspapers, government officials and leaders in areas from psychiatry to religion also have heaped condemnation on homosexuality. The defense minister even said gays and lesbians were a more serious threat to national security than nuclear war.
The fevered atmosphere began emerging in late 2015 when top academics attacked gay support groups at universities. By February it had become an onslaught. Pressure from Islamic hardliners forced the closure of an Islamic boarding school for transgender students in Yogyakarta last month.
“Everyone in society is reading the propaganda of hate,” said Augustine, a veteran lesbian activist who goes by one name. “They forget LGBT are human.”
She said that for several weeks, she has received phone calls late at night or before dawn from men who threaten to kill her if she does not close the advocacy organization she works for.
Augustine said she has not felt so abused over her sexual orientation since she fled her own father’s anti-gay violence in the late 1990s.