Tue, 30 Aug 1994

Indonesia opposes marriage between gays

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia is opposed to the marriage of two people of the same sex, although the practice could cut the population growth, President Soeharto said yesterday.

While recognizing that people's sexual rights should be respected, Indonesia's concept of a family also stresses the responsibility of fathers and mothers in raising a family, Soeharto was quoted as saying by State Minister of Population Haryono Suyono.

Haryono, yesterday, reported to President Soeharto on the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Population and Development in Cairo next week.

The questions of abortion and marriage among gays are two of the most contentious issues that will be raised at the Cairo meeting, with some staunchly religious countries -- including The Vatican and Saudi Arabia -- opposing the attempt to include the issues in the agenda.

Yesterday, Soeharto appointed Haryono to head the Indonesian delegation to the conference. The President had originally been scheduled to address the gathering to represent the developing countries and the Non-Aligned Movement. Minister/State Secretary Moerdiono announced last week that the president decided not to attend after doctors told him to get plenty of rest.

Haryono, who also chairs the National Family Planning Board, said yesterday that the President has given his assurance that neither homosexual marriages nor abortion will ever be incorporated into the national family planning program.

Haryono said that 40 countries around the world have accepted the rights of gays and lesbians to form families.

He did not rule out the possibility that these issues will be discussed at the Cairo meeting. "Although they are a minority, they could be vocal," he was quoted by the Antara news agency as saying.

Indonesia, however, has no intention of meddling in the affairs of those countries who uphold the rights of gays and lesbians, he said, stressing that it was their right to do so.

Regarding abortion, the minister said Indonesia recognizes the practice but only for health considerations and under very strict conditions.(rms)