Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country. Many Indonesians believe that being LGBTIQ or accepting LGBTIQ individuals stand against religious norms and societal values. Negative media coverage, stereotypes, homophobic rhetoric, and calls for criminalization of same-sex relations by religious leaders have exacerbated negative societal opinions. Acceptance is slightly higher for transgender individuals, mainly because of the historical societal appearance and functions of the “waria” people, a third gender community in Indonesia.
Same-sex relations between consensual adults is not criminalized at national level in Indonesia. However, several provinces such as Aceh, which operate under Sharia law, criminalizes consensual same-sex activity with punishments that include public floggings, imprisonment, hefty fines and/or be subjected to conversion therapy. The 2016 National Pornography Act, which is vaguely worded and is open to interpretation, has also been used to target LGBTIQ people. In 2018, a conservative organization submitted a proposal to redefine the current definition of adultery in the penal code to include consensual homosexual relations. The case was turned down by the Constitutional Court. The ‘Family Resilience’ bill, introduced in February 2020, defines homosexuality as a deviance, requiring LGBTQ people and/or their families to submit themselves to the authorities for rehabilitation. Since the bill’s proposal, activists have reported an escalation in violence against LGBTIQ people.
At the moment, efforts to revise the penal code, which include provisions that violate the rights of gender and sexual minorities, has been met with delays, protests and international pressure. Vote to pass such changes has been postponed while the government reached an agreement with civil society groups.
Out of fear for their safety, most LGBTIQ Indonesians keep their identities concealed. LGBTIQ organizations are, in theory, allowed to register, but there are barriers to their operation. As such, few of these organizations operate openly.