Indonesia’s education minister faces censure over LGBT comments


An Indonesian minister has faced a slew of criticism after he said LGBT students should not be admitted into universities.

Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister M. Nasir said on Sunday, “The LGBT culture is not in accordance with the values and morals of Indonesia. I will not allow it.”

He added that educational institutions were seen as moral guardians, and as such were responsible for upholding the country’s values.

Nasir had made the statement following the controversy over a poster advertising counseling services for LGBT students at the University of Indonesia (UI), which went viral last week.

The services were being offered by the Support Group and Research Center (SGRC-UI), a student-led initiative founded by UI students, lecturers, and alumni that aims to offer counseling services on gender and sexuality issues for students, in addition to providing a forum for discussion of critical research on sexuality.

On Jan. 21, the university issued a formal statement saying that the SGRC-UI had not yet been formally approved by campus officials, prompting accusations that the group was promoting homosexuality and “corrupting the morals” of Indonesian students.

Nasir later attempted to clarify his remarks via Twitter, tweeting that as Indonesian citizens, members of the LGBT community should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. However, he added that “it does not mean that the state legitimizes the LGBT culture.”

“My comment was regarding members of the LGBT community openly displaying their sexuality on campus, which I will not allow,” he tweeted.

He also said it was an individual’s right to be gay or lesbian, but the academic atmosphere must not be disrupted.

In response to Nasir’s comments, an online petition was launched, asking the minister to recant his statement.

According to the petition, banning LGBT students from university campuses would be a violation of Indonesia’s constitution, which states that every citizen is entitled to education. At the time of publishing, 1,646 supporters had signed the petition.

Meanwhile, LGBT advocates have rebuked the minister for his comments.

“For a minister of technology, Muhammad Nasir appears ignorant of the fact that the biggest technology corporations are supportive of LGBT rights,” said researcher Hendri Yulius.

“Sexuality does not affect the ability to learn and advance human civilization, which is, after all, surely what education is ultimately all about,” he added.

Natalius Pigai from the National Commission on Human Rights told ucanews that the state should promote an education system that was inclusive, rather than discriminating against the LGBT community.

“The state must guarantee the right of every citizen, including members of the LGBT community,” he said.

This article was originally published on Asian Correspondent.

Image via M.Nasir’s Twitter.

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