Perceived anti-gay sentiment in Indonesia risks damaging a lucrative tourism market in Bali, a destination loved by lesbian, gay and bisexual visitors, along with many other travellers.
A sales assistant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Ubud who organised a karma-related blessing ceremony for a male couple last year was subsequently charged with religious blasphemy, according to an article in Asean Travel.
Same-sex marriage is not recognised in Indonesia (nor in Australia) but in Indonesia intolerance of homosexuality is increasing among officials, the article says, even though no national laws specifically criminalize same-sex relationships.
A few months ago, Indonesia’s Defense Minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu, said the country’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights movement was “a form of proxy war” more dangerous than nuclear warfare, while an Indonesian lawmaker suggested that LGBT people should be put to death, Asean Travel reported.
Earlier this month, the Jakarta Post reported that a group of academics and activists was urging the Constitutional Court to change the Criminal Code to make it illegal for homosexuals to engage in sexual activities. The petitioners maintained that homosexuality was “contagious” and “could trigger a spike in HIV infections”.
A report from Human Rights Watch said: “What began as public condemnation quickly grew into calls for criminalisation and ‘cures’, laying bare the depth and breadth of officials’ individual prejudices.”
A Human Rights Watch video can be seen here:
Asean Travel says the growing intolerance could potentially trigger a boycott of Bali by LGBT travellers. Bali is regularly named among the top five favourite destinations for gay tourists visiting Asia, with Seminyak, Kuta and Ubud villages in particular regarded as gay-friendly destinations on the island.
Written by Peter Needham in Bangkok