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Discriminatory Bylaws in Palembang and Makassar

Public discussion "Justice for all at local level" in Palembang
 

The local government of South Sumatra has become the first target of a sustained campaign, because of its blatant discriminatory bylaws (perda). In a recent bylaw that is intended to eradicate prostitution, it is stated that the act of prostitution includes homosex, lesbian sex and sodomy.

To combat this discrimination Arus Pelangi started to open up the discourse by organizing a public discussion in the city of Palembang; NGOs, grassroots communities and academics were among the participants. It was held om February 28, 2007.  

This public discussion got the attention of a local TV station which invited Arus Pelangi for a talkshow.

.Perticipants of the public discussion

Interview at local TV station

At grassroots level, many people are still not aware what their rights are; this has resulted in that many human rights violations remained unresolved. To empower them, a paralegal training for grassroots organizations; to make them aware of their rights and to prepare them to face any discriminatory measures from the local government. This training was organized in cooperation with LBH, a legal aid institute.

At the same time, the grassroots organizations are trained on how to influence the local government when it comes to public policies that harm the liberties of the people.

paralegal training
Discussing strategies to fight discrimination
Celebrating Women's Day
Stop Violence and Discrimination against Women!

Fighting discrimination against LGBT cannot be separated from the broader struggle for gender equality. The International Women's Day became a focal event to join forces with the women movement in Palembang. Hundreds of activists gathered together for a demonstration on March 8, 2007.

In a reaction to women's demands, some local politicians have already stated that they agreed to revise the discriminatory bylaws. Now, it is in the hands of the local civil society to follow up the developments that should lead to the revision or repeal of the bylaws.

Audience at talkshow in Makassar
Talkshow at Radio Mercury, Makassar

In contrast to Palembang, the city of Makassar, South Sulawesi, does have a vibrant LGBT communities which have somehow organized themselves. They are keenly aware ot the threat of discriminatory bylaws being implemented in their area.

To foster discussion among the general public about discriminatory laws and the nature of democratic process Arus Pelangi organized a talkshow at Radio Mercury; we received many SMSes and calls regarding and/or challenging the implications of discriminatory bylaws.

Hang-out place for gays in Makassar
Paralegal Training
Training Paralegal
Proudly showing the coverage of their demonstration

In July, the Coalition Against Discriminatory Bylaws (KUPD) went to Makassar to hold the three-week training for NGO and civil society actors from throughout South Sulawesi. The turnout was much better than that in Palembang, and the participants more motivated. Animated discussions about the current situation in South Sulawesi coloured the trainings and subsequent discussions, and an active coalition to counter discrimination was created to deal specifically with the discriminatory regional laws institutionalising Islamic beliefs.

The Makassar participants were much more progressive in their approach to protecting their rights, and much better educated in what those rights are and legal and effective ways of appealing to the government and key influencers in the region to affect change.

The regional government has granted a permit for Lapangan Karebosi, a public park and a traditional hang-out place for transgender persons, to be turned into a shopping mall. The transgenders staged a demonstration to demand that their voices be heard, and it was the decision of the coalition to join in support. Participants were able to meet with members of the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) and their concerns were heard.

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