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Ivan Gunawan becomes another victim of ongoing LGBTQ discriminations: Rights campaigner

Jakarta Globe - February 2, 2024

Ashlynn Hannah, Jakarta – Ivan Gunawan, a well-known entertainment TV host, recently lost his job following a reprimand from the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) for being deemed "too feminine." This incident highlights what a prominent rights activist describes as another instance of blatant discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Since 2012, the KPI has issued guidelines prohibiting broadcasters from stigmatizing "people of certain sexual orientation and gender identity." They consistently censor television (TV) and radio programs that are perceived as depicting the lives of gender-diverse individuals as "normal."

Andreas Harsono, a senior journalist and researcher for Human Rights Watch, notes that the commission often succumbs to pressure from community and religious groups concerning LGBTQ issues.

The Indonesian Child Protection Commission, for example, justifies these bans, asserting that such content might encourage younger individuals to imitate and rationalize the "behaviors" of LGBTQ people.

"They (KPI) admitted that they are wrong in asking TV stations and radio to censor men with feminine appearances," Andreas said in a recent interview with the Jakarta Globe. "But they told me they feel compelled to do so due to complaints from other parties about the appearances of LGBTQ people."

Even before Ivan's case, Andreas had expressed concerns about discriminatory policies targeting TV and radio personalities based on their effeminate behaviors. In May 2018, Andreas had a meeting with KPI commissioners to discuss their ongoing discrimination against LGBTQ groups in Indonesia.

"Basically, we told them to stick to their own guideline," Andreas said.

This is not the first time the KPI has been in the spotlight for the exclusion of LGBT Indonesians. In 2012, "Indonesian Idol" judges were reported to be bullying male contestants on their show for so-called 'feminine' behaviors.

It took a group of activists in Jakarta demanding a meeting with KPI and the involvement of the National Human Rights Commission for an apology to be issued from KPI.

On Feb. 12, 2016, the KPI issued a new regulation that prohibited TV and radio programs from broadcasting content featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Andreas protested this regulation at his meeting with KPI, but the commission argued they only wanted to ban the portrayal of LGBT lifestyles with their regulation, not LGBT individuals altogether.

"Any TV station or radio station is forbidden to stigmatize any people of certain sexual orientation and gender identity," Andreas said.

A 2014 UNDP report summarized that there are no national laws recognizing the rights of LGBT people in Indonesia and local laws seem to trump when it comes to labeling homosexuality as immoral and punishable.

The report also stated police generally fail to protect LGBT people from punishments and attacks that are being carried out by extreme Islamist activists.

"Over the last two decades, there are more and more regulations that subscribe to the so-called Islamic Sharia discriminating against women, religious minorities and LGBT people," Andreas said.

Contrary to KPI's own Guidelines for Broadcast Practice and Standard for Broadcast Programs, these regulations have worsened discrimination and exclusion from the media for individuals with diverse gender expression and non-heteronormative sexuality.

KPI's regulations and recent actions regarding Ivan disregard the functions of the media which are fundamentally giving voice to the voiceless, keeping governments accountable, and educating on human rights issues.

"That's why in my meeting with the Commission, I told them 'You cannot do that'," Andreas said. "They are all educated people, they know that what they're doing is wrong. They just cannot stand the pressure from the religious group. They're not that stupid."

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/lifestyle/ivan-gunawan-becomes-another-victim-of-ongoing-lgbtq-discriminations-rights-campaigne