The Indonesian Air Force has caused controversy after claims that the service has decided not to accept LGBT recruits as it believes that homosexuality is a mental illness.
The comments which were made via the Indonesian Air Force’s official Twitter account, @_TNIAU, which stated that any soldiers who committed “immoral acts” would be discharged.
According to Straits Times, a user, tnaPurba (@ratpruba), soon questioned the statement further and asked if that included LGBT people who wished to join the air force, @_TNIAU replied in the affirmative.
“There is a mental health test in the selection process. LGBT is included as a mental disorder. If there are still many candidate soldiers who are mentally healthy, then why should unhealthy ones be accepted?” the account’s administrator stated.
Despite the Indonesian Air Force’s stance, the comments are not supported by leading medical and mental health bodies. Homosexuality was in fact removed as a mental disorder by the General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 1990.
The tweets have since sparked a furious debate between supporters and opponents of the policy on the social media platform.
The air force went on to acknowledge that “this is a sensitive issue” but said that “the TNI must be firm” and that “TNI soldiers must be physically and mentally healthy…”
The account added that “Same-sex intercourse is a sin, right? I am really sorry, but even animals never miss their target in mating.”
Contrary to the Indonesian Air Force’s statement, homosexuality in nature is not uncommon at all, with same-sex attraction being documented in over 1,500 species.
The LGBT community has come under increasing fire over the last two years in Indonesia. This has included censorship, harassment, arrests, abuse, and intimidation by religious groups along with homophobic condemnations and inflammatory statements by officials.
In 2017 there are reports of at least five raids targeting LGBT people, despite a pledge by the Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in October 2016 that “there should be no discrimination” against LGBT people.