By Emily Johnson
JAKARTA, Indonesia – It was in December 2017, as anti-LGBTQ sentiment was peaking in Indonesia, when Acep Saepudin’s father decided something needed to be done about his son.
He sought out a spiritual teacher in their town of Purwakarta in West Java Province and asked the ustad to give the young man an Islamic exorcism that would cure him of being gay.
Saepudin, now 23, went along willingly enough. It was a frightening time to be gay. Being straight would make his life a lot easier. He was also ashamed.
“I still believed that if I am Muslim, I can’t be gay,” he said. “Because I had studied at an Islamic school about six years and studied at an Islamic university. So it affected my thoughts.”
The ustad performed a ruqyah: an exorcism that in Indonesia is used to cure everything from poor health to bad relationships by ridding the afflicted person of demons known as jinn. The teacher prayed over Saepudin, who cried and then felt calm. Saepudin was instructed to sleep with Quran verses under his pillow.
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