The Universal Periodic Review and LGBTI rights : Indonesia

Published: June 19, 2012

Yuli Rustinawati, but most of her friends call her Ye, is one of the founders and chairpersons of Arus Pelangi, a national LGBT organization in Indonesia, and one of the national leaders of Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia. She holds a degree in economics and has been a member of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI). In 2005, she assisted the ASEAN Network for Free Election as an observer at the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.
 
Patricia Curzi, ILGA UN Officer, interviewed Yuli when they both attended the Indonesia Interactive Dialogue in Geneva in May 2012. Yuli replied to the questions and, in turn, she herself asked questions to Patricia as a representative of ILGA.

You and your team from Arus Pelangi were involved in the NGO Joint Submission of the report for Indonesia’s first UPR. What convinced you to take part in the UPR process?

Over the last five years, Arus Pelangi has been working with human rights organizations, and being part of the human rights movement made us feel stronger. Also, in the past two years many negative incidents have occurred to LGBT people in Indonesia, including: the dismantling of the ILGA Asia conference in Surabaya in March 2010, the attack by the local Islamic Defenders Front on a closed-door human rights training session for transgender persons provided by the Indonesian Commission on Human Rights in April 2010, the fundamentalist Islamic group protests at the Q! Film Festival venues in Jakarta and Yogyakarta in October 2010 and there was trouble at the celebration of IDAHO (International Days against Homophobia) in Jakarta in 2011.

It is the first time that Arus Pelangi is participating in the UPR and we immediately accepted the proposals from human rights groups to collect information on the negative incidents related to LGBT people and advocate together by preparing a joint NGO report for the UPR.

What were the main challenges for your organization in being part of the UPR process?

The main challenge for Arus Pelangi was to collect reliable data on the cases of violence and discrimination experienced by LGBT people. And since it was the first time we participated in this process, it was not clear to us which steps needed to be taken in addition to compiling a report. Assistance by the human rights groups and also by ILGA were important to maximize the work we did around the content of the report, including lobbying some governments to make recommendations and now follow it up, Including to lobby some government officials to make recommendations to Indonesia on LGBT issues, and now that the interactive dialogue is over, follow up with the recommendations proposed to make sure that Indonesia accepts them.

Which lobbying activities did you carry out in Indonesia to raise awareness regarding the report and more specifically about LGBT issues?

Well, before the interactive dialogue between Indonesia and the other States that took place in Geneva on 23 May 2012, we sent the joint NGO report to numerous embassies and to the EU representation in Jakarta. We organized three diplomatic briefings where six embassies were present: UK, the Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Norway and Morocco. A representative from a group from New Zealand came to our offices and promised to encourage its government to address LGBT issues with Indonesia. We also held a meeting with the embassy from US and together with the organization Protection International we met the Swedish representative in Jakarta.
Finally, we approached national media (Tempo, Jakarta Globe) and held a press conference to raise awareness on the UPR and address issues mentioned in the report. Several articles were published about the Indonesian UPR, even if LGBT issues weren’t mentioned.

How useful was it for you to be in Geneva for the interactive dialogue between Indonesia and other States?

Thanks to our presence in Geneva, supported by ILGA, we were able to better understand how the whole UPR system is working and how civil society organizations can have an impact on government policies. Just after the interactive dialogue between Indonesia and the other States, we were a bit disappointed that only two of them referred to LGBT issues (Spain and Switzerland). But the side event that we organized just after, entitled “Voices from the Ground: Assessing Indonesia’s Human Rights Developments through the UPR” was successful, about 50 people attended, including missions from India, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands. Together with ILGA, we were also able to have a discussion with the Belgian representative. These contacts can be seeds for the future and we will make sure that we continue to follow up with countries committed to addressing LGBT issues.

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