The Indonesian government says it will likely reject 75 recommendations by United Nations member countries to improve human rights abuses in Indonesia. Those recommendations targeted issues such as threats to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the abusive blasphemy law, and the death penalty. An Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official described the recommendations as “hard to accept” for reasons including the vague and undefined notion of “Indonesian conditions.”
UN members made the recommendations in May 2017 during the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Ireland and Sweden recommended that the Indonesian government address anti-LGBT discriminatory laws, Angola and Spain called for the abolition of the death penalty, and the United States and Germany sought the revocation of the blasphemy law. Indonesia must formally respond to those recommendations with a response of “accept” or “note” – the latter signaling an effective rejection of the recommendation – during the next meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.
The Indonesian government’s unwillingness to address these abusive laws and policies shows a lack of commitment to improving the country’s human rights record. It’s also an ominous signal of the government’s disregard for the rights of the LGBT community and religious minorities. Government-fueled animus has stoked a surge in anti-LGBT incidents across Indonesia since January 2016—in synch with broader rising intolerance of religious minorities. The blasphemy law has increasingly been used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities. While the government has paused its use of the death penalty since July 2016, the execution of convicted drug traffickers remains a signature policy of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
The government’s feeble claim of “Indonesian conditions” for rejecting solid recommendations from UN member countries to improve human rights will come as no comfort for LGBT people and religious minorities whose rights are already in peril.