Seventy years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly, what we have witnessed is that its claim of universality has been consistently challenged. While all human beings are deemed born automatically free with equal rights, the very definition of human itself in practice is not always neutral.
The Indonesian case of homophobia (or even some other ASEAN countries) reveals that homosexuality issues are more complex and are more than just moral or immoral debates; they are about national reactions to the rapid transmission of global discourse, the dynamic of movements and counter-movements in democracy, and also the state’s multifaceted representation which place sexuality as a political issue of our contemporary time.
In late November 2016, rainbow colors broke through the black of mourning found everywhere in Bangkok, as 700 activists and allies from around the world arrived to participate in the largest ever world conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Dédé Oetomo stressed that the focus on the LGBT situation in Indonesia is because of the increased level of intolerance and homo- and transphobia in recent months. In spite of these worrisome trends, Dédé Oetomo see it as an opportunity that, because of the current crisis, the LGBT issue is now “on the table” and can be openly discussed in the public and policy spheres. He remains optimistic as he believes that Indonesian society is not per se homophobic and LGBT people have come a long way in terms of organizing.