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Out Gay Indonesian Granted Stay of Deportation

Anton

Philadelphia couple Anton Tanumihardja and his partner, Brian Andersen, were set to be split apart today despite Anton's continuing pleas for asylum.

Newsworks reported on Friday:

Anton would seem to have a compelling case for asylum.  Anton is gay, which doesn't go over well in Indonesia.  The gay community there is forced underground.  Anton recounts a time some of his friends were at a secretly planned gay party, which was raided by Muslim extremists.  The partygoers fled, and some were seriously injured.  He was almost at that party, but the ever-industrious Anton didn't want to miss work.

"They attacked inside the building where all the gay people were just having a meeting, and then everybody had to run to save their life," he recalls.  "My friend had to stay in the hospital because he tried to jump through the fence and scratched his arm."

If being gay weren't enough, Anton is also ethnically Chinese and Catholic.  All three make him a minority and potential target of violence in Indonesia.

Lavi Soloway of Stop the Deportations writes to tell us that Anton's deportation has been granted a last minute stay:

"Therefore ICE will extend the Stay .. until a decision is made by the BIA [Board of Immigration Appeals] on his Motion to Reopen."

Watch an interview with Anton and Brian, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. The entire LGBT community (and all our straight allies) needs to be aware how much impact the passage of UAFA and/or the overturn of DOMA will have on the life of thousands. The fight for the UAFA (Uniting American Families Act) bill goes beyond the entitlement to be recognized as "married", it directly addresses binational LGBT couples' mere RIGHT TO BE TOGETHER. Talk about it with your friends, co-workers, families and all. UAFA cannot move forward if we don't make sure people are aware the fight binational LGBT couples face everyday. Too busy to call Congress about it? Then spread the word!

    Posted by: Marco | Feb 14, 2011 7:53:16 PM


  2. Wow good news!

    Posted by: Rowan | Feb 14, 2011 8:05:20 PM


  3. Great news! Very happy for both of them!

    Posted by: Josh | Feb 14, 2011 8:54:10 PM


  4. People should be able to marry whom they love and their spouse should be granted residency in our country. However, asylum is a different issue, and once again Anton's case smells of a green card aspirant rather than someone who is genuinely in danger of persecution. I've lived in Indonesia, and I've lived in genuinely homophobic countries. Indonesia is not one of them, it is by far the most accepting Muslim country of homosexuality, and one of the most accepting countries in Southeast Asia. There are open gay bars and drag shows in Jakarta and other major Indonesian cities, and even if Anton and his friends were roughed up by a gang (as happens in some US cities), he would NOT be persecuted in his homeland.

    I think our stories justifying asylum for gays should be limited to those from truly virulently homophobic countries, the Egypts, Ugandas, Malawis, Iraqs, Saudi Arabia, etc., and whose lives are either genuinely in danger or threatened by persecution.

    Posted by: Mike C. | Feb 14, 2011 9:34:52 PM


  5. I have a gay Indonesian friend here. He is scared to death to show anything in public because he is afraid of being lynched.

    I wonder where he gets that from?
    Sure in some areas of Indonesia and maybe the big cities there is more tolerance like there is in the US urban vs rual areas, but the vast majority of Indonesia is conservative and would give great difficulty.

    The country is an Islamic country. By definition, if you are born to Islamic parents, you are a Muslim and subject to state sanctioned religious rule. It's on your ID and on your Passport.

    Indonesia may be better than the Middle East, but it is still a scary place to even come out to family members.

    Posted by: Chris | Feb 14, 2011 11:37:14 PM


  6. I was planning on writing a comment about how ridiculous the claim for asylum is here, and that Indonesia is the most gay accepting Muslim country in the world, with a typical southeast asian live and let live attitude. The group that broke up the party is a group of thugs, not government related, that occassionally attack straight bars, nightclubs etc as well as gay places. It happens very infrequently, and very much against the government's wishes. But there is probably at least as much gay bashing in any Western country as there is in Indonesia, probably more. Anyway, I see that Mike got there first, so I don't have much more to add, so I'll just agree with Mike and call it a day.

    Posted by: Brian | Feb 14, 2011 11:41:58 PM


  7. While I am happy that this couple are together, it would be nice if they could have avoided smearing the reputation of Indonesia. They have completely misrepresented the facts. Throwing in the race and religion cards is just revolting. Shame!

    Posted by: Brett | Feb 15, 2011 12:32:48 AM


  8. This, btw, is the same type of blatant front that was put on by the gay Venezuelan whom Towle Road posted about some months ago. As if being gay in Venezuela or Indonesia would ever earn them persecution. They have both made as big a stink of it as possible, and in the process smeared their country and families, just because they want to live in a first world country with a rich boyfriend at any cost.

    Brian and Anton are not bad people, but there are good fights to be fought in the battle for international gay rights and asylum, and this once again is not one of them.

    Posted by: Mike C. | Feb 15, 2011 2:14:30 AM


  9. I think that sometimes, to get any sort of response out of the government, you have to exagerate the circumstances a bit. His friend scratched his arm and stayed in the hospital. Wow, I've had shitty things happen to friends too... That said, this nation was founded and built by immigrants, and based on the principles of personal freedom. I think he has every right to go through the process just like anyone else would have to.

    Posted by: chris | Feb 15, 2011 2:18:51 AM


  10. Obviously he wanted to stay in the US, it's pretty common for scums to badmouth their own countries whenever it suits them.

    Gays in Indonesia are never persecuted. Fact! I have many many gay friends in Jakarta who'd love to bitchslap this idiot who lie just to be with his sponsor.

    Posted by: Lola Lobos | Feb 15, 2011 4:06:23 AM


  11. Chris, I think it's unfair when you start generalizing an entire country as one thing or another. Just as someone who grew up in Alabama might have a different experience than another in California, stories will vary across Indonesia.

    In which part of Indonesia did your friend grow up? What ethnicity is he? What religion, if any?

    I recognize other people's story will be different, but as a mostly agnostic, gay Indonesian American who'd spent most of his life in Jakarta, I can say it wasn't a walk in the park (then again, I was a hormonal teenager), though I never felt persecuted.

    I don't consider Indonesia a Muslim country, despite an overwhelming majority being Muslim and despite the fact that the local government of one of the three special regions opted for Islamic law. Yes, your religion is on the national ID and passport, but one would still have the *option* to indicate no specific religion. The constitution guarantees the freedom of life, family, thought, expression, education, and religion.

    My parents and all my extended family are Muslim. I had the freedom to go to Catholic school, with a diverse group of people, including ethnic Chinese. I went to an all-boys Catholic high school, where some guys were out.

    Now don't get me wrong: I know full well that the fight for gay rights in Indonesia has been met with opposition by the conservatives, and I salute people who refuse to back down. But I hope you'll also keep in mind that the state doesn't control all media, and that even in the 90s, I recall the occasional news features on the fight for gay rights.

    Posted by: RP | Feb 15, 2011 5:03:49 AM


  12. As an immigrant, I totally understand the stress that comes with having the constant threat of deportation hanging over your head. However, through sheer hard work and perserverance, I obtained a green card via employment. This gentleman is clearly desperate to stay with his lover and has probably exaggerated circumstances in his home country in order to qualify for asylum - a convenient quick way out. He and his lawyer should be called out on this - the system should not be exploited at the detriment of other people that have legitimate causes.

    Posted by: SCNY | Feb 15, 2011 9:02:57 AM


  13. Wow, there are some extremely selfish, anti-immigrant comments here. I am shocked at the callousness of the comments by Mike C. Just amazingly cold and heartless.I thought for a minute I was reading Red State instead of Towleroad. Wow. And for the record, Venezuela is no picnic for gay people. Being out can be very dangerous to your health, career, home and even your life.

    Posted by: RWG | Feb 15, 2011 9:15:44 AM


  14. One more thing for all you skeptics to consider: what about the rights of the US citizen involved here? Do his interests have any merit, or are you willing to dismiss them as phony as well?

    Posted by: RWG | Feb 15, 2011 9:46:14 AM


  15. i see a scheming man playing the victim card, throwing everything hoping that something sticks. trying to jump the legal immigrant line? nice try but try harder. anyone who has ever lived in indonesia for any period of time knows that if you're going to organise a party, the local police/mafia/mullah has to be paid their coffee money. this is especially true if you're visibly non-native (e.g. chinese, caucasion etc). so i'm not buying this lame sob story.

    Posted by: matt | Feb 15, 2011 10:30:51 AM


  16. There was nothing anti-immigrant about Mike C's comments, RWG, which is why I supported them. I've been living with my non-US partner for fifteen years overseas, waiting for the dreaded DOMA to finally get repealed. So I'm hardly anti immigrant. Mike (and my) point was that this discrimination against binational couples is unacceptable and incredibly frustrating. But it is demonstrably false that Indonesia's gays are persecuted, and all Mike C and I (and others) are trying to do is set the record straight re Indonesia. And of course nobody is dismissing the US citizen's rights, that's the whole point of the other comments stating their relationship should be recognized, and if that were the case they wouldn't have had to make up the story about gay persecution. Lastly, on the subject of asylum, I think the US should absolutely accept legitimate asylum seekers. I think the entire gay population of Uganda, Iran, and many other countries should probably qualify. But that will become politically impossible if people without legitimate claims keep making up stories to try and game the system.

    Posted by: Brian | Feb 15, 2011 12:18:00 PM


  17. I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on your reply. You and Mike C are supportive...of the man's deportation! Obviously, you have no experience with the very real problems of being in a bi-national same-sex relationship. You don't know what it feels like to have the entire Federal government opposing your most basic of rights, that of just being together. It's very clear that both of you want the guy deported. And I wouldn't worry too much about the entire populations of other countries seeking asylum, they actually have to first BE ADMITTED to the US. I can tell you from firsthand experience that getting even a simple tourist visa is nearly impossible if you are from a disfavored nation. Finally, what makes you so sure the man's claim is illegitimate? Were you in the immigration court? Did you see all the evidence? So please, spare us all your phony figleaf of sensibility and just admit you're anti-immigrant.

    Posted by: RWG | Feb 15, 2011 3:16:02 PM


  18. You are an idiot RWG. How can you say I have no experience with the problems of bi-national couples when I very explicitly said, in easy to read words, that I am in a binational relationship for 15 years now, and have been unable to live in the US as a result. I am acutely aware of the difficulties. Your other "points" I guess are that I'm anti immigrant even though I said I want all gays from oppressive countries to be given asylum in the US. And frankly, as someone who hasn't lived in the US for 15 years, I really don't care who lives there, so I have no reason to be anti immigrant. I've also lived in seven different countries, so I'm hardly xenophobic. Lastly, you are right that I wasn't at the immigration hearing, but neither were you. But I have lived in Indonesia for four years, and if you scroll through the comments you'll see that everyone who lived there or is from there agreed that being gay in Indonesia is not a lifethreatening issue, in fact in most parts it's nothing at all. You were neither at the hearing, nor, from your reply, are you remotely familiar with Indonesia. So again I think I am better positioned than you are to assess the asylum claim. Look, we both want the same thing, that this couple stay together in the US. I just want it through official recognition of bi-national relationships. I'm perfectly happy if they manage to trick the US government into granting asylum, too. I'm just not happy that Indonesia comes off as Uganda in this claim, so I'm trying to clear that up. You can make up whatever rebuttal you want, but please read what I write first.

    Again, to focus on my main points, I'm a long-suffering partner in binational relationship, hope this couple stays together, believe the US should grant asylum to many more gays than they curently do, just don't believe Indonesia is a gay-hating place.

    Posted by: Brian | Feb 15, 2011 4:56:21 PM


  19. I am a gay Catholic Chinese Indonesian who has been with my American husband for 15 years. We have settled down in Canada since 2006. We often tell our friends in Canada that Indonesia is one of the most tolerant countries for gay people. In fact, this September, about 15 of us( all gay) are going to spend time together in Bali. I don't recall any gay bashing or attack on gay people. I do recall all those wonderful gay theme parties that we had back then. A few years ago, we didn't even have a single gay bar simply because there was no need for one. In every club and bar you will see straight, gay, transexual and bisexual people mingling together. When it was time to leave Indonesia we simply couldn't settle down in USA because of the US anti same sex law and since Indonesia is not a homophobic country I couldn't apply for an asylum. Most of our friends back there are completely out of the closet and those who are't are usually not doing it because of family inheritance issue which is usually tied to children having to produce grandchildren before they can lay their hands on their inheritance.
    I totally agree that this couple should be allowed to be together however, smearing Indonesia's 250 million people's reputation in order to earn a green card is selfish and totally outrageous.

    I just spoke to a couple of friends back in Indonesia and they are pretty upset by this guy. Ironically, if he got sent back to Indonesia, he might ended up being attacked by gay people there.

    Indonesia's version of Oprah Winfrey is a transsexual named Dolce Gamalama

    Posted by: tomas | Feb 15, 2011 10:49:51 PM


  20. I am an Indonesian, and I have seen in the news how there are real attack on when the transgender or gay organization want to held a meeting for them. google for "FPI" or Front Pembela Islam, or Islamic Defender in English. This is not a government group, rather they are some radical muslims group who would protest against anything (playboy, valentine's day, pubs, bars, transgender groups, gays group,anything)
    To those who said Indonesia in general is not a homophobic country, I would say thank you because that's what most educated Indonesian people intend to have, a country who accept anyone for they are. Unfortunately Indonesia is not a country who will fly the rainbow flag. In some cities yes they open their arms wide but there are so many people too that are still homophobic in this country. Many of my friends are still in the closet, afraid of upsetting their family, afraid of the consequences from the people around them. But also there are many of my friends are out of closet and be accepted by their loved ones.
    I won't blatantly accusing him being a greencard chaser. I won't rule out that he indeed feel he can't live freely here in this country.
    ps: please don't compare Oprah to Dorce, that woman is nowhere near Oprah and Dorce Gamalama once said that the terorist who bombed Bali "will be in heaven with the angels". As a Balinese and LGBT supporter I despise her.

    Posted by: Yaakshi | Feb 15, 2011 11:42:10 PM


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