UK envoy summoned over LGBTQ flag
Indonesian authorities summoned Britain's ambassador to the country on Monday to explain the UK embassy’s decision to fly a LGBTQ rainbow flag in Jakarta earlier this month.
The flag was raised alongside the Union Jack on May 17 to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The picture of the two flags was shared on the embassy’s Instagram account along with a lengthy post in support of sexual minorities and LGBTQ rights.
The move has been regarded as “extremely insensitive” by Indonesia’s foreign ministry, which released a statement calling for the UK embassy, as well as all foreign delegates, to respect the country’s religious, social and cultural norms and beliefs. The ministry stated that it has expressed its disappointment and protest to the British ambassador, who is expected to convey it to the government in London.
Homosexuality is not explicitly criminalized in Indonesia, apart from the provinces of Aceh and South Sumatra, which adhere to Sharia law. However, the nation, which is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, does not have any laws protecting LGBTQ people and does not allow same-sex marriages, both of which are considered taboo.
Lately, however, human rights campaigners have claimed that Indonesian authorities have been seeking to clamp down on sexual freedoms, with the parliament reportedly planning to revise the criminal code to include clauses that could affect the LGBTQ community.
Additionally, despite homosexuality not being banned at the federal level, The Human Dignity Trust, an international LGBTQ rights organization based in London, claims that LGBTQ people in Indonesia have increasingly been targeted under other legislation, such as anti-pornography laws.
The organization states that there has been an ongoing crackdown against those who identify as LGBTQ in the country and that such people are frequently detained as a result of raids on venues frequented by the gay or transgender communities.
Indonesia isn’t the only Southeast Asian nation to protest foreign governments’ expression of support for LGBTQ rights. Singapore warned the US last year against interfering in its domestic social and political matters after the US embassy held a webinar with a local non-profit group to promote LGBTQ rights in the country.
Singapore’s foreign ministry stressed that the US had no right to interfere in issues such as “how sexual orientation should be dealt with in public policy.”