Fearing the Queer and the War on “Indecency” : Portrayals of LGBT Individuals, and the Struggle for Religious Decorum in Aceh, Indonesia
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AbstractIn 2014, the sharia-ruled Aceh province of Indonesia legislated bylaw qanun jinayat no.6/2014, which criminalised same-sex acts, and imposed a caning punishment consisting of a hundred lashes if a person was found guilty. The law impelled a hunt and persecution of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) individuals, thereby worsening discrimination against the already hampered LGBT community. This study investigated how LGBT individuals are portrayed in Aceh, specifically how the former mayor of Banda Aceh Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal understands the LGBT phenomenon. The research uncovered (1) the different discourses on LGBT individuals that emerged according to Djamal’s understanding, (2) how LGBT individuals are portrayed within the Acehnese society, and (3) how LGBT issues contrast the Acehnese Muslim identity. With the assessment of various gender theories and insights to Islamic paradigms from the Sunni Shafi’i School – the most practised type of Islam in Aceh – the analysis of this study discussed the salience of religion in the society. The results showed that LGBT individuals are portrayed in different discourses – as a threat, disease, deviancy from traditional gender norms, family problem, and a crime. The outcomes further indicated that “LGBT behaviour” is categorically perceived as a threat to Aceh, and incompatible with the Acehnese Muslim identity.