Indonesia, Asia

The Republic of Indonesia is comprised of 17,508 islands. It is the world's largest archipelago state. With an estimated population of around 237 million people it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation; however, no reference is made to Islam in the Indonesian constitution. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. Most Indonesian Hindus are Balinese, and most Buddhists in modern-day Indonesia are ethnic Chinese. Bali has a population of about 3,151,000 and is home to most of Indonesia's Hindu minority. Tourism is the largest single industry and as a result Bali is one of Indonesia’s wealthiest regions.

Unlike other Muslim countries, Indonesia is relatively tolerant of homosexuality. As in many countries in South East Asia, it is a part of everyday life. Even in the media several gay or transsexual prominent people exist. Nevertheless this subject is low key and not openly talked about. Fanatical Muslim groups have been known to attack gay men. Homosexuality is a not a crime when it occurs in private and between consenting adults. Also see: Islam and Homosexuality


News & Reports:


Indonesia’s LGBT community survives despite growing threats from government, clerics

Indonesia’s reigning transgender beauty queen holds her head up high as a wave of intolerance sweeps across Indonesia. Kiki, or Qie Nabh Tappiii, became Miss Waria Indonesia at a time when Indonesian officials, clerics and even government ministers regularly launch verbal assaults on the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Waria is the… Read more »

Gay couple arrested for having sex face up to 100 lashings

A gay couple face up to 100 lashings by cane after a neighbours reported them to police for having sex. If found guilty the two men will be the first to be caned in Indonesia for gay sex, according to the Shariah police’s chief investigator. The men, aged 23 and 20, were arrested in the… Read more »

Gay Indonesians On Edge as Incidents of Brazen Homophobia Rise

Jakarta — Homophobic rhetoric is nothing new in Indonesian politics. In recent months, elected officials have labeled gay Indonesians as morally corrupt, inconsistent with national values, and “worse than nuclear warfare.” But the recent arrest of several gay men at a private party in south Jakarta’s Kalibata City was a shock for many, both because… Read more »

13 men arrested in Indonesia for holding ‘gay sex party’ even though they committed no crimes

Around 50 members of an extremist religious mob barged into the gay person’s home Jakarta police have arrested 13 men for holding a ‘gay sex party’ even though there is no evidence they committed a crime. Around 50 members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) barged into an apartment in South Jakarta, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar… Read more »

LGBT Jakartans: ‘Worse than a nuclear bomb? We just want to be accepted’

Intro: “In the Guardian newspaper Nov 26 was this report composed by a ‘typical’reporter Stanley Widianto which attempts to scare people into thinking that Armageddon is about to happen for the LGBT community in Indonesia. As usual the writer has found the worst examples of fear to re-enforce his negative point of view. He does… Read more »

What’s behind Indonesian authorities’ desire to control LGBT sexuality?

Indonesia’s LGBT community has been weathering “unprecedented attacks” through hateful public comments by top public officials since early this year. But the biggest threat yet has come recently in a legal move by a conservative group, the Family Love Alliance (AILA), to criminalise any sexual activity outside marriage. The Constitutional Court is deliberating the alliance’s… Read more »

Indonesian police want gay dating app ban

Jakarta – Indonesian police said Friday they want a ban on gay dating apps in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country after a paedophile ring allegedly used popular service Grindr to pimp boys. It was the latest move by Indonesian authorities against homosexuals, who have faced a sudden backlash this year, with the government recently… Read more »

A Happy Warrior in a Faltering Battle for Indonesian Gay Rights

Surabaya, Indonesia — After the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last year, a leading Indonesian television station held a prime-time debate about whether this Muslim-majority democracy should do the same. On one side of the stage stood a conservative Muslim theologian and a member of Parliament, both of whom strongly rejected the idea… Read more »

Indonesia has ‘no room’ for LGBT community says president’s spokesperson

The spokesperson for the president of Indonesia has said that the country has “no room” for the LGBT community. Amid reports of an unprecedented amount of anti-LGBT attacks in Indonesia, Johan Budi, the spokesman for the president, has said there is “no room” for the LGBT community. He said, “Rights of citizens like going to… Read more »

Things to Know About LGBT Issues in Indonesia

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population of Muslim-majority Indonesia has long faced homophobia, but attacks and harassment have reached a fever pitch in recent months, with antigay rallies by religious hard-liners and declarations by some officials that it represents a threat to the country’s values. Here are five things to know about being LGBT… Read more »

Virulent anti-gay remarks test Indonesia’s moderate image

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Gays are a contagion, declares the banner in bold red and black lettering that hangs on the sidewalk of a bustling neighborhood in the Indonesian capital close to embassies, luxury hotels and the homes of some of the country’s leaders. Erected by an ultra-conservative Islamic group, it’s the latest manifestation of… Read more »

Islamists Shutter First Trans Mosque

Indonesia is more progressive when it comes to gender fluidity than the West, but that tolerance has come under attack by Islamists. On Sundays, Shinta Ratri would sit in the back of the mosque, in her hijab and a full-body prayer garment, preparing to pray among her transgender sisters. Most of them would line up… Read more »

Indonesia psychiatrists label homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender as mental disorders

Indonesia’s leading psychiatric body says that LGBT can be cured through proper treatment. The Indonesian Psychiatrists Association (PDSKJI) has said that such ‘sexual tendencies’ are triggered by external factors and can be healed through psychiatric treatment. PDSKJI member Suzy Yusna Dewi talked to the Jakarta Post to address the country’s rising concerns on the growing… Read more »

MUI: UNDP’s $8 million program to protect LGBT rights will destroy Indonesian culture

The “LGBT panic” in Indonesia continues. After pushing to get rid of “gay emoticons”, religious leaders and Indonesian politicians are now going after a much more serious target – an initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aimed at protecting LGBT rights. On Sunday, Tengku Zulkarnain, the secretary general of the Indonesian Ulema Council… Read more »

Indonesia tackles homophobic harassment by Muslim hardliners

An Indonesian mayor has reprimanded a hardline Muslim group targeting homosexuals in the country’s third largest city, Bandung. Government officials have ordered Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) to remove homophobic banners that call on gays and lesbians to leave the city. Last week the FPI raided boarding houses in the city where they believed gay people… Read more »

LGBT Indonesians on campus: too hot to handle

Although same-sex practices and gender non-conformity have always been part of Indonesian culture, universities appear unaware or unwilling to acknowledge this fact. Photo by Flickr user torbakhopper. On the weekend, controversy over a support group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students at the University of Indonesia led Muhammad Nasir, the minister of research,… Read more »

Queer Southeast Asia: Recognition, Respect & Legitimacy

Over the past few decades, diverse new cultures and communities based on same-sex preference and transgender identity have become increasingly prominent in all the countries of Southeast Asia. Across the cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity of region, and despite the distinctive colonial and semicolonial political histories of the modern states of Southeast Asia (see Jackson… Read more »

Anti-gay laws come into effect in Indonesia’s Aceh province

Gay sex in the region to be punishable by 100 strokes of the cane. A strictly Muslim, and increasingly conservative, province in Indonesia has enacted a law punishing gay sex between Muslims. The province is the only one in the country that is allowed to implement Sharia law. Gay sex is not illegal in the… Read more »

Being LGBT In Southeast Asia: Stories Of Abuse, Survival And Tremendous Courage

LGBT groups in Southeast Asia are working double-time to bring about change. This is a 10-part series on LGBT rights in Southeast Asia, which uncovers the challenges facing the LGBT community in the region and highlights the courageous work of activists there. For the next nine days, we’ll be telling the stories of each country… Read more »

Address stigma and discrimination against LGBT people

Komnas HAM has called for an end to discrimination and stigma against the LGBTI community, urging the government to issue more supportive regulations. The former Chairperson and member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Hafid Abbas has called for an end to discrimination and stigma against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender… Read more »

Indonesia Anti-Gay Fatwa Ignites Debates

Jakarta – A new fatwa by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) that criminalizes homosexuality in the world’s most populous Muslim state, has drawn mixed reactions, with rights activists seeing it “discriminatory”. “The fatwa combines molestation, which is a crime in the penal code system in Indonesia, with sexual orientation, which is not regarded as a… Read more »

Indonesian activists reject Muslim clerics’ anti-gay fatwa

Criticism greeted a harsh proposal from Indonesia’s top Islamic clerical group, which called for the country to enact a law against same-sex intimacy and to impose the death penalty. The proposal was contained in an edict, or fatwa, from the Indonesian Council of Ulema, which is known as the MUI, from its Indonesian name, Majelis… Read more »

Families must end LGBTI violence and improve rights in Asia

Bangkok (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Some of those most guilty of violence and discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people in Asia are their families, which must instead play a key role in improving LGBTI rights, activists from the region said. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) in Asia face the threat of… Read more »

Strict sharia forces gays into hiding in Indonesia’s Aceh

Overwhelmed by fear, members of the main gay rights group in the Indonesian town of Banda Aceh started burning piles of documents outside their headquarters in late October, worried that the sharia police would raid them at any moment. Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh had weeks earlier passed an anti-homosexuality law that punishes anyone caught… Read more »

Indonesia’s Aceh introduces whipping as punishment for gay sex

Banda Aceh, Indonesia – The Indonesian province of Aceh on Saturday approved an anti-homosexuality law that can punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes, a lawmaker said. After a three-decade-old separatist movement, a peace agreement signed in 2005 granted special autonomy to Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, on condition that it… Read more »

Transgender Islamic school reopened

A Pesantren Waria (Islamic boarding school for transgenders) in Yogyakarta has once again opened its doors, and brought the subject of freedom of religion for all — regardless of sexual orientation — back into the public arena. After the death of its founder Maryani last month, the school moved to a house belonging to Shinta… Read more »

Young Indonesian lesbians struggle with the pressure to marry

Many lesbians in Indonesia feel the pressure to marry, and like many others in less accepting societies around the world, many consider marrying a gay man, but is it a way to solve their marriage problems? Kate Walton, who works for a national women’s organisation in Jakarta, explores the issue. In Indonesia, where same-sex marriage… Read more »

Recorded abuses against LGBT ‘the tip of the iceberg’

Forum LGBT Indonesia, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, has recorded 47 cases of abuse against gay individuals across the country over the last year, a figure it says is only the tip of the iceberg. The coalition said on Tuesday that it had collected and studied 47 reports of violence… Read more »

Letter from Indonesia: I’m gay, I’m not a product of the West, and I’m not alone

On Monday March 4, law professor Arief Hidayat, stood before members of the House of Representatives and answered questions to determine his fitness for Indonesia’s constitutional court. In a series of answers delivered to the commission of elected officials, Hidayat declared that all Indonesians ought to believe in God, and that the country, an emerging… Read more »

Newspapers blast ‘Dark Ages’ laws in Indonesian province of Aceh

New Islamic Sharia laws in Indonesian province of Aceh propose flogging gay people and making it illegal for women passengers to straddle a motorbike Editorials in The Jakarta Post and The Bangkok Post have slammed authorities in the Indonesian province of Aceh for introducing new Islamic Sharia laws that include flogging gay people and banning… Read more »

Indonesian Islamic extremists shut down trans festival

FPI forces closure of Festival Waria Berbudaya (Cultural Transgender Festival) in Jakarta, but denies violence Indonesian Islamic extremist group FPI (Front Pembela Islam, the Islamic Defenders Front) forced the closure of a festival for transgender rights in Jakarta on Monday. A witness reported that the members of the FPI wore helmets and brought sticks to… Read more »

Gay rights activist rejected as Indonesian human rights commissioner

After months of tests Dede Oetomo is not one of the 13 applicants chosen by MPs to serve on Indonesia’s human rights commission An Indonesian gay rights activist who has been waiting for months to hear if he will be accepted to serve on the national human rights commission has found out that he didn’t… Read more »

The ASEAN declaration – Good news or bad news?

We now know what the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will say. Is it good news or bad news for LGBTI? Douglas Sanders looks at the issues. First the bad news. We are not named. In the anti-discrimination provisions there is no reference to “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” or “gender expression.” Perhaps we don’t… Read more »

My Name is not ‘waria’: Tiara Tiar Bahtiar

Fridae’s Ng Yi-Sheng speaks with transgender writer, entertainer and activist Tiara Tiar Bahtiar, who had recently launched a book of anecdotes, poems and photographs of local transgender culture, about growing up and how the Bugis people traditionally believe that humans can be grouped into five different gender categories. It’s tough to be a woman today,… Read more »

The warias of Indonesia in disaster risk reduction: the case of the 2010 Mt Merapi eruption in Indonesia

This field note draws upon the concepts of vulnerability, marginalisation, and capacity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to face natural hazards. As a case study, this paper highlights the response of warias, members of the LGBT community in Indonesia, during the 2010 Mt Merapi eruption. Through key informant interviews and observation of… Read more »

New Regional Community Youth Leader And Policy Briefing Paper Announced

(Bangkok)   The Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) has been a leader in mobilising attention and action to promote the health and human rights of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people since 2007. Today, APCOM reaffirms its commitment to working with young MSM and transgender people by supporting… Read more »

The Universal Periodic Review and LGBTI rights : Indonesia

Indonesia – Yuli Rustinawati, but most of her friends call her Ye, is one of the founders and chairpersons of Arus Pelangi, a national LGBT organization in Indonesia, and one of the national leaders of Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia. She holds a degree in economics and has been a member of the Indonesian Legal Aid and… Read more »

Thousands scream for hate at anti-LGBT rally in Malaysia

Thousands of protestors, including students, gathered for an anti-LGBT rally outside Kuala Lumpur on Saturday Thousands, including hundreds of students, gathered at an anti-LGBT rally outside Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, witnessing speeches clamouring for intolerance of sexual minorities in Malaysia. Several NGOs met to express their dissatisfaction with tentative calls for LGBT rights in the… Read more »

LGBT film released in Indonesia

Sanubari Jakarta features ten tales of LGBT life in Indonesia Sanubari Jakarta (‘Jakarta Deep Down’), a collection of stories about LGBT lives in the capital of Indonesia, was released in cinemas yesterday. The film was made by a collective of ten directors with support from the Kresna Duta Foundation (an independent film funders), LGBT center… Read more »

Gay, transgender activists still in contention for Komnas HAM role

Indonesian gay activist Dede Oetomo and transgender Yulianus “Mami Yuli” Rettoblaut are both still in the running for National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) leader position. Both names are among the 120 selected applicants that the selection committee announced in a press conference on Wednesday. “The selection team considers both of them to be… Read more »