When religious doctrines make the LGBTIQ community more miserable, a reinterpretation of the biblical texts that marginalizes them is urgently needed.
This is what the Chairperson of the National Executive Board of The Theological Education Women Association in Indonesia (PERUATI) Rev. Darwita Purba said to the journalists and editors of IDN Times North Sumatera (Sumut) in Medan (9/3).
“There must be a reconstruction of religious methods, that is by reading the Bible with fresh eyes,” continued Darwita who visited the office of millennial’s media platform with the LGBTIQ community of Sumut (Cangkang Queer and PETRASU), female activist Lely Zailani (HAPSARI), Medan State University (UNIMED) anthropologist Dr. Rosramadhana M.Si and a Bible expert from the Postgraduate Program of the Theological School of the Methodist Church in Indonesia (STT GMI), Rev. Robinson Radjagukguk.
Because the media has a huge influence on the way people see LGBTIQ, Darwita continued, so their role is very strategic if the news coverage on the community is written and showed positively.
According to the reverend who is also active in the Postgraduate program of STT GMI, the media could dig deeper and spread the Bible (through religious leaders or theologians) by taking the education role.
A similar thing was said by senior activist Lely Zailani. At this time, according to her, the stigma against LGBTIQ is tremendously spread all through, even until the grassroot levels. Even though they are around us.
“There was a case with my neighbour (a member of the LGBTIQ community) who was disowned by their family,” Lely said disappointed, “so that in situations like that, we need the media to cover the news with empathy.
This activist who has worked with grassroot women in Sumut since the early 1990s through HAPSARI really hopes that the media are capable of pushing the public’s empathy towards LGBTIQ.
Amek Adlian, one of the representatives of the LGBTIQ community that attended this media visit, explained the results of the monitoring of media coverage in Sumut which generally corners and discredits the community. However, he admitted that the process of meeting and discussing between the community and the media, with several journalists in Sumut, is a start of giving room for the change in tone in news coverage that will be more LGBTIQ-friendly.
As a response, the editor of IDN Times Sumut Arifin Al Alamudi appreciates the efforts of Union of Journalists for Diversity (SEJUK) that has tried to share an accurate perspective to the journalists and editors on how to report the issue of sexual diversity. This is because sensational news and pursuing after clickbait that corners LGBTIQ is due to the lack of “brakes” or the appropriate guidance.
Training and discussions on how the media should cover LGBTIQ is a positive thing. But, according to Arifin, it would be better if there were efforts to encourage the Press Council to publish the guidelines.
He, who first initiated the invite to IDN Times Sumut, then compared the challenges in LGBTIQ news coverage with other issues like the protection of children’s rights. Previously, Arifin continued, the news coverage on children did not have any brakes either. Then there was a published guideline for news coverage that is in accordance with the Child Protection Act.
“The joint movement that was carried out by SEJUK and its network on how the media should cover LGBT must continue to be encouraged so a guideline to LGBT-friendly news coverage would be published,” he hoped.