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The Yogyakarta Principles, an Effort to Protect the LGBTQ+ Community

From Dec. 6 until Dec. 9, 2006, a meeting conducted by groups of human rights experts, such as a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations independent experts, people who were members of the United Nations treaty bodies, activists, judges and academics, was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They discussed a set of rules which would be able to protect the rights of people in the LGBTQ+ community and make sure that their freedom was guaranteed. These principles also addressed all forms of abuses towards the spectrums, such as rape, oppression, violence and discriminations, and stated that the community had to be treated equality, needed to be respected and could not be marginalized from any kind of activity in the society. This meeting finally came up with a set of rules that are known as the Yogyakarta Principles.

The Yogyakarta Principles may not be the only official document that guarantees the lives of people in the LGBTQ+ community, but it is a proof that Indonesia was the place where the principles that protected the lives of the LGBTQ+ was made. In connection to the controversy regarding the policies Indonesian government made for the LGBTQ+ community, it is such contrast to the event — as in the meeting for the principles — that was held in the country. We may have not heard much about the policies Indonesian government made for the LGBTQ+ spectrums, but most policies and rules made give disadvantages for the community itself. For example, Indonesian government banned emojis that symbolized the same-sex relationships in applications such as LINE and WhatsApp. Indonesian government also pointed out their dislike towards the community by planning to set a rule that would ban same-sex intercourse. The Defense Minister even said that same-sex relationship was more dangerous than nuclear bomb. In early 2016, the Research, Technology, and Higher Education Minister also boycotted an organization that revolved around sexuality and gender studies at one of the universities in Indonesia. The government also considered the LGBTQ+ community as a critical problem that needed to be stopped.

Both issues — the birth of the Yogyakarta Principles and LGBTQ+ banning in Indonesia — are somehow against each other. One happened in order to protect the lives of LGBTQ+ people and the other one was meant to do the opposite. If Indonesia was pointed to be the venue to create such pledge, wasn’t the country supposed to be aware of the safety of LGBTQ+ Indonesians as well? Aren’t the Indonesian members of the LGBTQ+ community still Indonesian citizens whose rights are protected and need to be respected?

The Indonesian government might still be far from creating a safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community, let alone legalizing same-sex marriage. The key to create a safe environment is by respecting the community as human beings. By finding out more about the Yogyakarta Principles and its roles, the government could use it as a fundamental guide in providing safety for then LGBTQ+ community in Indonesia instead of turning against them.

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Natasya Fila Rais is an 18 years old child actress, musician, novelist, and journalist. Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, she has been writing since the age of 7. Her debut young adult novel, "Ephemerae" was released on January 12th, 2017. Natasya also enjoys reading books, listening to music, singing, playing guitar, and traveling. She is a feminist. Her concern about social justice issues is one of the reasons why she begins to touch the world of journalism.

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