Queering internet governance in Indonesia

In Indonesia, sexuality has gradually become a more and more open public discourse. Conflict on discourse of sexuality expands through the use of Internet. On the one hand, internet has given space to the advancement of human rights including human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ).

On the other hand, the technology creates a space, which preserves status quo, discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ that has previously been evident in offline spaces. Harassment and homophobic bullying, which include online delivery of hate speech against the LGBTIQ referred to as cyber-homophobia is among the behaviors appearing in social network and other cyber spaces. The blockade of LGBTIQ websites by several Internet Service Providers (ISP) has been happening since 2011. The act is often a one-sided decision without prior notification to owner of website. More often than not, the process is committed by both ISP and Ministry of Communication and Informatics Republic of Indonesia, without a transparent and accountable consultation to the owner of the website.

Purpose and objective

In response to such situation, in 2012, LGBTIQ activists began advocating Human Rights of LGBTIQ in the area of internet management. These activists include Institut Pelangi Perempuan (IPP), Ourvoice (OV), Arus Pelangi and Gamacca. The social movement and process of advocacy against cyber-homophobia and the decision to close LGBTIQ websites in Indonesia then become a movement introduced as “Queering Internet Governance in Indonesia.” IPP in collaboration with organizations mentioned above initiate exploratory research in relation to human rights of LGBTIQ and the internet governance in Indonesia. Exploratory research is conducted to observe a problem that has not yet been able to be clearly identified in terms of situation and existence. More often than not, such case appears when we have not had enough knowledge on conceptual difference and articulation of facts in exploratory relation. EROTICS has been conducted in several countries in the world including Brazil, Lebanon, India, USA and South Africa. The EROTICS global network is working under the coordination of Association for Progressive Communications (APC), an international organization working in research, policy advocacy, and campaign of Internet Rights as part of Human Rights.

The result of this research is expected to serve as one of the materials in developing the discourse of human rights of LGBTIQ in internet governance in Indonesia. The objectives of this research are to:

• Explain the role of internet in advancing the human rights of LGBTIQ and LGBTIQ online activism in Indonesia.
• Articulate LGBTIQ advocacy in integrating human rights of LGBTIQ in internet governance or queering the internet governance in Indonesia.
• Articulate challenges of LGBTIQ movements in Indonesia both in offline and online spaces in order to map the relation between the two.

Several questions explored in this research include:

1. How is the role of internet in promoting human rights of LGBTIQ and advancing the LGBTIQ movement in Indonesia?
2. How is the situation of online discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ in the context of law and human rights?
3. What are the strategies of advocacy selected by LGBTIQ movement in queering internet governance in Indonesia, and what are the ways and roads taken?

Research methodology

The research uses qualitative and exploratory design method, which limits the study to identification of ideas, thoughts and knowledge in relation to the issue. This methodology is selected to provide better understanding on a situation. In addition, this research is design not to give final answer but to build hypotheses on what has been happening in relation to a certain situation. These hypotheses will become questions describing two or more inter-connected variables. Follow up research is necessary to further study the findings of this exploratory research.4 Both approaches are used to collect information on online advancement and ignorance of human rights of LGBTIQ in relation to practices and policies in offline spaces.

Exploratory research with qualitative method requires a natural setting. Hence, researcher needs to build rapport with informants. Trust building starts with online communication, inquiry and correspondence followed by direct interview. The method is used to explore data in relation to meaning, value, and experience of informant. This study also employs data collecting technique through EROTICS global survey, which was launched on March 8, 2013 by the APC. The reason for employing this technique is to disclose various challenges faced by sexual rights activists in using the internet at the global level. This survey was distributed worldwide in EROTICS focus countries namely India, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, USA, and Indonesia. Indonesian respondents of the global survey include activists of sexual rights and Human Rights of LGBTIQ, Women Living with HIV/AIDS, Muslim feminists based in Islamic Boarding School (pesantren), anti-trafficking in person activists, National Commission on Anti Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), academics working on the issue of gender and sexuality and other activists of sexual rights. In addition, in-depth interview to explore and verify data has also been conducted.

This data collection technique is considered appropriate for the research as it facilitates exploration of experience of various actors. As much as 11 activists consist of 3 females and 8 males participate in the interview. Some of them are LGBTIQ activists and activists of internet rights and internet governance as well as women’s rights activists. The gender gap of people we interviewed really represents the limited participation of women or transgender activists who are quite active in voicing for the internet or communication and information technology rights. Men remain dominant in the interview. Three (2 men and 1 woman) of the 11 in-depth interview informants were also the EROTICS Indonesia survey respondents.

After conducting survey and in-depth interview, the team also organized focused group discussion by inviting research respondents and involving other civil society organizations such as Satu Dunia, ICT Watch, Institute for Criminal and Justice Reform, National Commission on Anti-Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), HIVOS South East Asia Region, division of research of the London School of Public Relations Jakarta, and individuals who are active in information and communication technology. The FGD was aimed to clarify and consult the result of research. The secondary data is obtained through library study, peer-reviewed journal, bulletin, newspaper articles and other related documents.