The UK’s Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has condemned the decision by Indonesian Police to surrender to the threat of mob violence by banning an international conference led by ILGA-Asia, a branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, on March 26, and agreeing for the delegates to be expelled from the hotel at which they were staying in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city.
Reports refer to a mob of up to 150, believed to be led by Islamic extremists.
GALHA Chair Adam Knowles commented:
“This example of mob rule, with the apparent connivance of the local police and collaboration of the hotel managers, is an outrage which should be condemned by all those who value free speech and free association throughout the world. This craven appeasement of violence, while punishing the intended victims, sends out the message that violence pays, threatening more such attacks in the future.”
“At a time when the forces of religious conservatism are trying to flex their muscles in the UK as well, the attack also serves as a timely warning that the freedoms which we currently enjoy in a secular society cannot be taken for granted. It also underlines that when religious extremists gain the upper hand, gay people and their supporters are still often seen as a soft, easy and tempting target.”
“GALHA expresses its solidarity with all people in Indonesia who value freedom, and human dignity, whatever their religion or belief system, and whatever their sexual orientation. We call on the Indonesian government to ensure that all of its citizens, including LGBT people enjoy the right of free speech and free association, free from pressure and intimidation.”