Indonesia Pressures Foreign Teachers to Take ‘Gay Test’

by Sonia Hickey & Ugur Nedim

The Indonesian government is putting pressure on foreign teachers to take a test which it says can determine whether a person has ‘abnormal’ sexual desires.

Reports suggest that the exam ask questions such as “agree or disagree: I would feel uncomfortable knowing my daughter’s or son’s teacher was homosexual.”

And this, true or false: “The gender composition of an orgy would be irrelevant to my decision to participate.”

The ‘gay’ test

Human rights advocates around the world are concerned about the tests, which some

schools have been enforcing in recent weeks.

Enforcement has been haphazard, as the scheme requires schools to hire a psychologist to conduct teacher certifications, as part of the job application process, before the teacher is employed. The testing is then conducted every six years as part of the school’s accreditation process. There is no standardised exam and some questions are more intrusive than others.

The goal of the test is to determine teachers’ sexual orientation and attitude toward gay rights under a government rule introduced in 2015 that prohibits international schools from hiring foreign teachers who have “an indication of abnormal sexual behaviour or orientation.”

Justification

The government says the test is intended to prevent foreign paedophiles from being hired as teachers.

It was introduced after Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman and six Indonesians were accused of sexually abusing young students at the prestigious Jakarta International School.

They were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms on the basis of what has since been considered a botched police investigation and faulty evidence, including accusations that Mr Bantleman used magic to seduce the children.

At the time, the school, independent investigators, and the United States, British, Canadian and Australian embassies in Jakarta all questioned the legitimacy of the guilty verdict.

Mr Bantleman was granted clemency in June and freed after serving five years in prison.

Equating homosexuality with paedophilia

A fundamental criticism of the scheme is that it presumes not only that homosexuality is socially unacceptable and dangerous, but that homosexuals have an inclination towards paedophilia – which has no evidentiary basis whatsoever.

This, critics say, is evident in the types of questions that are asked, which revolve more around homosexual inclinations than anything else.

Homosexuality in Indonesia

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia except in the autonomous province of Aceh, where gays and lesbians can be caned under Shariah, the Islamic legal code.

But lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people are facing growing hostility across the remainder of Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, and the prejudice extends beyond the country’s schools, as applicants for official government positions are also facing a similar screening process.

Last year, the Parliament came close to overhauling its criminal code, which would have seen the introductions of laws criminalising same sex relationships.

Resuming executions

Around the same time, the Parliament also hinted the country would resume executions.

Indonesia has observed an unofficial moratorium on executions since 2016. There are currently no Australians on death row, but at the end of 2018 there were more than three hundred people awaiting execution, and at least another 66 were sentenced to death in 2019.

Sex outside marriage a criminal offence

Late last year, Indonesia was also considering the introduction of controversial new laws that would make sex outside marriage a criminal offence for both locals and tourists, requiring couples  to prove they are married in order to rent a hotel room, or other accommodation, and also forbidding couples to live together outside of marriage.

Amid increasing pressure – more than 500,000 people signed a petition urging President Joko Widodo to intervene – the vote on the new laws was delayed. It is likely they will resurface in 2020, after more consideration and consultation.

Legislative changes in Indonesia are of great significance to the rest of the world because it is such a popular tourism destination – Bali in particular is a hugely popular, attracting six million tourists every year, and more than a million of those are from Australia alone.

It has a significant expat community too – with around 130,000 foreigners living and working there.

Authors

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team.

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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