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Indonesians try exorcisms to chase away ‘gay genies’

LGBTI people are being subjected to “gay exorcisms” in Indonesia as the country’s anti-gay panic continues.

Ruqyah rituals (Photos courtesy of damssein Medika (left) and Saj Muslim/The Ruqya Services via YouTube and Vice)
Ruqyah rituals include “gay exorcisms.” (Photos courtesy of Adamssein Medika (left) and Saj Muslim/The Ruqya Services via YouTube and Vice)

By Lloyd Copper

As Indonesian exorcists tried to purge gay and lesbian Indonesians supposedly suffering from “gay genies,” a massive anti-gay rally was held last month in the West Sumatran capital Padang, an Indonesian media outlet reports.

The gathering drew hundreds of people who have expressed their intolerance of LGBTI people.

It’s a worrying trend that has been increasing in Indonesia, partly due to Islamic fundamentalism and partly as a tool politicians use to score votes since Indonesia is set to go to the polls next year.

Over a dozen gay couples in Padang were given exorcisms to “cure” them of their homosexuality and “convert” them to being heterosexual, Vice / Australian Today reported.

The exorcisms deploy a ritual called ruqyah, which proponents claim can cure people of all sorts of maladies including demonic possession. Homophobic Indonesians claim that gay men have been taken over by a gay djinn, or genie.

Anti-LGBT protesters, including the mayor, gathered on Nov. 18 in the West Sumatran capital of Padang. (Photo courtesday of Padang DPRD / Facebook via Coconuts Jakarta)
Anti-LGBT protest on Nov. 18 in the West Sumatran capital of Padang. (Photo courtesy of Padang DPRD / Facebook via Coconuts Jakarta)

The mayor of Padang, Mahyeldi Ansharullah, has a different theory of homosexuality. He declared that gay people suffer from a mental illness that needs to be treated.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Padang but that has not stopped the Civil Service Police, known as Satpol PP, from being given carte blanche to detain gay couples and force them into “treatment”.

The exorcisms are also seen as a form of entertainment by some Indonesians and broadcast on national television. On Instagram, the exorcist Ruqyahtrans7 has amassed tens of thousands of followers.

Numerous countries ban conversion therapy as harmful for individuals and ineffective in producing any permanent change in sexual orientation.

For more information, see this blog’s article “Ex-gay therapy’: What reputable experts have to say.”

Lloyd Copper is an Australian writer with a passion for promoting awareness of international LGBTI issues. He has a background in journalism and social work. He is a co-administrator of the Anonymous LGBT Legion Facebook page and has previously written for Queensland Pride, an LGBTI publication, and Scenestr, an Australian arts publication.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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