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Human rights researcher criticizes UGM's discriminatory LGBT ban

Tempo - December 15, 2023

Shinta Maharani, Tempo.co, Jakarta – A researcher from Human Rights Watch Andreas Harsono claimed that the circular letter of the Dean of Engineering Faculty of Universitas Gadjah Mada or UGM in Yogyakarta banning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) from campus is discriminatory and a trigger for persecution.

Andreas urged the campus to revoke the policy for its contradictory nature with the universal standard of anti-discriminatory principles in science.

"[The ban] is discriminatory toward certain individuals and is likely a form of persecution," he told Tempo on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.

The policy, he went on, contradicted common sense, was baseless, and subjective, risking everybody including people with different gender identities and sexualities protected by human rights principles.

The circular letter could become an instrument for the faculty to arbitrarily sanction students and lecturers with grade reduction, suspension, and removal.

UGM's Engineering Faculty refuses to open itself to science, Andreas said. Science recognized the diverse nature of gender identities and sexualities. This policy would make international universities and organizations hesitant to collaborate with one of the biggest universities in Indonesia, the researcher said.

Several campuses have implemented the discriminatory LGBT ban

Aside from UGM, Andreas admitted that he regrets the backward perspective of campuses in Indonesia. A similar policy was released by Universitas Andalas in Padang back in 2017. At the time, the campus released a discriminatory statement of LGBT-free for students enrolling in the university. After a public backlash, the campus revoked the policy.

Recently, the Sumatra Institute of Technology in Bandar Lampung also released a circular letter rejecting the LGBT campaign on campus.

UGM's reasoning

On Dec. 1, 2023, the Dean of Engineering Faculty of UGM Selo signed a circular letter to ban LGBT on campus. The letter prohibited activities that support the concept, perspective, position, and action deemed to be supportive of LGBT. According to the policy, these are deviations from Pancasila, the Constitution, and Indonesian norms.

Selo stated in the letter that the faculty has prepared maximum punishment for lecturers, students, and members of the faculty if proved support the movement.

The vice dean of campus Sugeng Sapto Suryono claimed that the policy was implemented after reports of male students entering women's lavatories. Some students accused their peers of being a part of LGBT.

"We need to protect the majority of students who felt threatened," he said.

The circular letter has been green-lighted by UGM's rector Ova Emilia, according to Sugeng. Sugeng also said that his team will form an ethics committee to investigate related claims.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1809700/human-rights-researcher-criticizes-ugms-discriminatory-lgbt-ba