A 29-year-old policeman in Jakarta, Indonesia was fired in February after 10 years of service for being gay, the Jakarta Post reported. The man, identified only as TT, is now challenging his dismissal with a lawsuit against the Central Java police and a human rights violation complaint filed with the National Human Rights Commission.
“Serving the public as a police officer for the past ten years has been my pride,” the former police officer told the newspaper.
“I have given my best my entire career, and they fired me just like that for reasons that pertain to my private life and don’t endanger anyone else. I am extremely disappointed,” he added.
While homosexuality is not officially illegal in Indonesia, with the exception of the Islamically-conservative Aceh province, TT was “dishonorably discharged” for violating the national police force’s code of ethics.
“Homosexuality is still taboo [in our society]. A police officer must not have any divergent sexual orientation,” said national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo.
His official notice of termination stated that he failed to protect the reputation of the police force and act in line with the country’s social and religious values, according to the Jakarta Post.
Prasetyo also said that TT “abused” a victim, though his lawyer’s confirm that his relationship with his partner is consensual, Reuters reported.
TT’s dismissal came two years after he was forced to come out as gay while celebrating Valentine’s Day with his partner at a local restaurant. As they walked to their car after dinner, nine police officers appeared and accused TT of extortion, he told the Jakarta Post. Though they had no arrest warrant, the officers forced TT to go to the police station and subjected him to a 12-hour interrogation, at which point he realized that their main interest was his sexual orientation.
After years of concealing his sexuality, TT admitted that he was gay. He said that the police then forcibly outed him to his other colleagues and family members.
According to activists in the region, TT is likely the first police officer to both be fired for his sexuality and challenge such a decision without denying his sexual orientation.
“As far as I know, this is the first time a victim of sexual orientation discrimination has fought back in Indonesia,” said gay rights activist Dede Oetomo. “This is very brave of him and it will have a role in changing society. LGBT people, the community and activists will be inspired to trust the legal process and see that there’s an opportunity to fight back.”
According to Reuters, there has been increased prejudice against LGBTQ individuals amongst Indonesia’s government and general public recently, causing members of the community to hide their sexual identities.
However, activists believe that this case could lead to greater protections for vulnerable individuals who identify as part of Indonesia’s LGBTQ community.
“Whatever the court’s decision may be, I want people to see the injustice that I [and the LGBTQ community] have experienced,” TT said to The Jakarta Post. “We have the same right to love and to live.”