Humanists UK calls for end to persecution of Christians, non-religious, and LGBT community in Indonesia at UNHRC

23 September, 2017

The UN Human Rights Council and its famous ceiling in Geneva

In a statement at the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Humanists UK has joined various states in expressing concern at the growing marginalisation of religious, non-religious, and LGBT minorities in Indonesia.

Despite having long accommodated a variety of different religion and belief communities, atheists are not legally recognised in Indonesia, non-religious or secular organisations are banned, and the non-religious are even barred from holding Government office. Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan, for instance, was arrested for blasphemy in 2012 and remains in prison simply for posting about Islam on his Facebook page, and for stating he was a Muslim rather than an atheist on a job application that would otherwise have barred him on account of his beliefs.

In recent years, however, the sizeable Christian minority in Indonesia have also started facing significant discrimination, largely as a result of a renewed zeal on the part of the state in enforcing the country’s blasphemy laws. Humanists UK representative Jay Harman drew particular attention during his speech to the continued detention of Ahok, the Christian former Governor of Jakarta, describing his arbitrarily imprisonment on charges of blasphemy earlier this year as ‘a stain on the record of what has historically been a tolerant and pluralist democracy’.

Mr Harman also criticised the deterioration of the rights of LGBT people in Indonesia, who are increasingly subject to ‘vigilante attacks, police raids, and violent, extra-judicial punishment by the authorities’. ‘It was particularly chilling just a few months ago to see the police chief of one Indonesian province announce the establishment of a dedicated taskforce to investigate and crackdown on LGBT activity’, he said.

Humanists UK concluded its remarks by calling on Indonesia ‘to free all those detained under its blasphemy laws, to abolish such laws immediately, and to halt and publicly condemn the wave of anti-LGBT activity that has swept through the country.’


For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK Campaigns Manager Jay Harman on

Read the intervention:

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