10th December 2010 Chevening, UK

Human Rights Day 2010 – a view from Indonesia

Lishia Erza, a recent Chevening alumnus from Indonesia writes;

We can be heroes, even just for one day. Great song to ring in my head on human rights day. Anyway… Back to topic.

Nobody should be excluded or discriminated against in their effort to access basic rights. That is the general belief. While it is generally agreed, discriminations still occur especially towards people who are ‘different’ such as homosexuals and transgender. Some societies still see gender and sexuality variance as deviant behaviour punishable even with cane lashes to the body. It is a crime to be gay in over 70 countries! The fact is that being a homo/trans-sexual person does not make someone less of a person. Sadly, society has a way of looking the other way when issues are alien or sensitive instead of acknowledging and embracing diversity.

While it isn’t a crime to be gay in Indonesia, it is disheartening to know that transgender people are classified as mentally disabled – therefore deprived of many of their rights (i.e. political rights, legal protection, etc). Gender and sexuality is often not a choice one can freely make. When they make unpopular choices about their sexuality, they are stripped off their value as equal people. Is this really the right thing to do??! Here’s a story about Indonesia’s Gay Hero.

Chevening scholars were chosen to pioneer development in various fields and to take on leading roles.  As Chevenings, we converse because we have a voice. How can we help the muted make their voices heard? How can we defend human rights when some people are not even seen as human?