The student body of Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, has released the results of a survey about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, claiming that so-called "LGBT behaviour" is caused by "keeping the wrong company" and that it is "contagious" and could lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The survey, conducted from Feb. 28 to Mar. 13, asked respondents various questions about "LGBT behaviour", with the results posted on the student body's website last week. The student body did not immediately respond to The Jakarta Post's queries about sample size and the methodology of the survey.
When contacted, Andalas University dean Tafdil Husni and vice dean Hermansah both said they were unaware of the survey.
Around 38.7 per cent of respondents said that "LGBT behaviour" was caused by "keeping the wrong company", while 30.2 per cent said it was the result of a "lack of religious knowledge". An overwhelming 81.8 per cent believed that "LGBT behaviour" was contagious and 93.7 per cent said that it could be cured.
The survey concluded, among other things, that "LGBT behaviour" in Andalas University could be eradicated by instituting anti-LGBT regulations.
University of Indonesia communications lecturer and research methods expert Eriyanto said that the survey could be categorized as a "pseudo poll" that "looks as if it is scientific but is actually not".
"The survey uses leading questions, which results in answers that reflect the questions," he told the Post on Monday. "The poll makers also clearly have a frame that is reflected in the questions and respondents are herded to agree with what the researcher wants."
He added that the poll's conclusions did not follow from its results. "For example, one of the conclusions is that 'LGBT behaviour is contagious and can spread HIV/AIDS,'" he said. "It should be made clear that this is only the opinion or perception of the respondents, because 'LGBT behaviour is contagious' and 'respondents believe that LGBT behaviour is contagious' are two very different things."
University of Indonesia sexuality and gender expert Irwan Hidayana said that the results of the survey reflected misconceptions that the public had about the LGBT community.
"Research, both in Indonesia and overseas, shows that sexual orientation, whether homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality, is affected by several factors including biological, psychological and social influences. So you cannot conclude that there is a single 'cause'," he said.
He added that while homosexuality had previously been categorized as a mental disorder, more recent research had resulted in its removal from the World Health Organisation's (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) lists of mental disorders.
West Sumatra is considered one of the most religiously conservative provinces in Indonesia and Andalas University has a history of anti-LGBT policies. Last year, the state university required prospective students who had passed its admission test to fill out and sign a form declaring that they were not openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
While the requirement was eventually removed from the university's website, the university has since held at least one "character development" talk about the "dangers" of homosexuality in February 2018.