Despite rejecting allegations that he was gay, Second Sergeant S.N.F. has been dismissed from his squad by a high military court in Jakarta in what appears to be the first legal case hinging on alleged homosexuality in the military in Indonesia.
S.N.F., who joined the military in 2008, appealed a decision by a Bandung court to the high court in Jakarta and rejected all accusations, including claiming that an allegation which stated that he was gay wasn’t backed up by experts’ opinions or a medical examination by a doctor.
S.N.F. also said that the Indonesian Military (TNI) would have detected that he was gay when he enrolled to become a military officer. S.N.F challenged the court to conduct a medical examination to determine whether or not he was gay.
“The defendant strongly rejects the judges’ consideration,” S.N.F. said in his appeal.
However, the appeal court rejected his defense, upholding the lower court’s decision and dismissing him from his job and punishing him with a five-month prison sentence.
The court insisted that the punishment was handed out not because he was gay but because he abandoned his duties for 42 days because he was embarrassed by his homosexuality.
However, Hendardi, a prominent human rights activist, demanded the court clarify whether S.N.F. really had abandoned his duties and was punished because of the desertion and not because of his sexual preference.
“Nobody can be punished because of their sexual orientation. It’s part of people’s basic rights that is guaranteed by the United Nations,” he said.
Hendardi, however, acknowledged that a revolution in the country’s mindset was needed in order for someone who was openly gay to be free to join the military in Indonesia.
Experts and activists have agreed that accepting openly gay individuals in most professions, especially in the military, will be difficult in a country where homosexuality is taboo and where many Indonesians still refuse to acknowledge gay people, with some groups even using violence against homosexuals.
The military court said that homosexuality has a negative impact on the troops, saying that such behavior could be contagious because people who are gay will search for people to continue such behavior.
“This is a threat for the strengthening of the TNI force, especially in guiding personnel because it has negative impacts,” a judge said, as quoted on the Supreme Court’s website on Saturday.
The court also noted that gay people were vulnerable to sexual diseases and AIDS due to their tendency to frequently change partners.
“According to experts, 95 percent of people affected by this disease [AIDS] are homosexuals,” said the judges in their consideration during a February trial, without citing which experts had made the claim.
According to the World Health Orgaganization, about 35.3 million people were living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in 2012.
The judges added that homosexual activities were not in line with religious or other norms.
“Homosexual behavior will ruin the troops’ morality and discipline, which would eventually affect the main duties of the TNI, and especially the defendant’s main duties in his unit,” said the judge.