Court begins hearing over students’ dismissal following publication of short LGBT story

The Medan Administrative Court (PTUN) on Wednesday held the first hearing over a lawsuit against the North Sumatra University (USU) rector filed by students on the Suara USU student website board who were fired for publishing a short story with a lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) theme.

A group of protesters who called themselves the Solidarity Alliance for Suara USU staged a protest outside the courtroom.

USU rector Runtung Sitepu was not present in the first hearing session, while the plaintiffs, Suara USU executive chief Yael Stefany Sinaga and chief editor Widiya Hastuti, who represent the 18 students — including themselves — who were fired by the rector, attended the session.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Roy Marsen Simarmata, demanded that the panel of judges accept the lawsuit and declare the dismissal of the 18 students illegal.

Roy argued that the dismissal was antidemocratic, violating Article 14 of Law No. 39/1999 on human rights, Article 19 of Law No. 12/2005 on civil and political rights, Article 6 of Law No. 12/2012 on higher education and Article 2 of Government Regulation No. 16/2014 on statutes of the North Sumatra University.

The rector recently shut down the student website and fired the students from the board after the website published a short story about a lesbian’s unrequited love on March 12. The rector argued that the student website had distributed pornographic content by publishing the story.