Catholics in Indonesia have rejected a government official’s call to ban counseling services to LGBT students in higher education.
According to Asian Correspondent, Muhammad Nasir, who serves as Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, decried such programs at the University of Indonesia, stating:
” ‘The LGBT culture is not in accordance with the values and morals of Indonesia. I will not allow it.’ “
The Minister added that, as moral guardians, colleges and universities had a duty to exclude LGBT groups on campus and said sexuality is a choice by individuals.
Nasir attempted to walk back his comments yesterday, saying that while LGBT people should not be discriminated against by laws, this does not mean “the state legitimizes the LGBT culture.” He specified further that he was not against people, but their activity and wanted to disallow “members of the LGBT community openly displaying their sexuality on campus.” He admitted to lacking the power to enact such changes.
” ‘The minister distinguished between a psychosexual condition and sexual praxis as something against moral values,’ Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman, a professor of moral theology at the Jakarta-based , told ucanews.com on Jan. 25.
“For the psychosexual condition, he said, the community cannot be regarded as violators of the moral values. ‘It’s like heterosexual condition. It doesn’t come out by itself even though it has potential to violate moral values.’
“Catholic universities had a moral obligation to oppose the minister’s remarks: ‘The church must defend the community (in this case),’ he said.”
It is unclear whether Nasir was actually making such a distinction or if Fr. Aman is projecting a distinction, but his assertion that the church “must defend” LGBT people is noteworthy.
Matheus Beny Mite, charged with Catholic education at Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, said that if the minister’s goals “are against human rights,” they would be rejected by the University.
While it is problematic that these two Catholic officials felt the need to condemn sexual activity, their rejection of Nasir’s uninformed remarks is a positive development. Furthermore, Fr. Aman affirmed that the church has an obligation to be in solidarity with LGBT communities facing discrimination,and Professor Mite rightly categorized this issue under human rights, not sexual ethics. Though Catholics constitute less than 4% of Indonesia’s population, these two Catholics by their acts of solidarity provide an outsized witness for the church — and advance LGBT justice.
This post is part of our “Campus Chronicles” series on Catholic higher education. You can read more stories by clicking “Campus Chronicles” in the Categories section to the right or by clicking here. For the latest updates on Catholic LGBT issues, subscribe to our blog in the upper right hand corner of this page.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry