The interesting topic delivered during the Wednesday Forum on March 3, 2010 was given by Maesur Zaky from the PKBI (Indonesian Family Planning Center) in Yogyakarta. During the forum, Maria Ingrid Nabubhoga, the foreign-students host, acted as moderator.
In the forum, Zaky built an argument that religion is often placed in a dichotomous system. As a result, almost all approaches in life are divided into two categories: true and false, black and white, right and left, and other ambiguous categorizations. Among other life, sexuality and gender is a phenomenon that often explicitly categorized in binary opposition.
In his presentation, Zaky tried to dismantle the models of this binary opposition that has been widely used in many religious traditions, especially when he saw the relationship between gender and sexuality issues. By revealing some facts on the phenomenon of transgender in religious traditions in the world, his presentation look at how religion can provide a situation that is more accommodating and friendly in dealing with issues of plurality, gender identity in religious practices. Gender Approach studies the perspective of identity, not only plays an important role, but also offers an alternative perspective in negotiating with the interpretations of sacred texts, especially about sexual orientation.
The discussions in the presentation was quite good in providing a model of inspiration in seeing religious texts that open the possibility of using the perspective of queer (homosexual, transgender and transsexual), so that the sacred texts of religions could be one source of gender pluralism.
During the open forum, some interesting questions and criticisms were addressed to the speaker. Some of the criticism came from Fitri, a university student who criticized Zaky. She said that Zaky’s explanation was not balanced, because the presentation showed only the Islamic verses that support the existence of homosexuality, ignoring many verses that oppose to the existence of homosexuals. She continued asking Zaky his response in viewing God’s curse against the majority of prophet Luth entourages who had homosexual orientation. The sensitive presentation was also criticized by Saber, an ICRS student, who loudly showed his disapproval of the speaker’s argument because, he stated that, the existence of homosexuality is clearly prohibited in the Qur’an.
This controversial yet interesting presentation ended at 2:30 in the afternoon and the audience gave a loud applause to the speaker.
Zaky Maesur of PKBI is an activist who advocates the marginalized community due to sexual orientation.
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