The embassy came under fire for flying a LGBTQ flag in Jakarta, a move branded as disregarding Indonesian “cultural sensitivities”
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.
On May 17, the Union Jack was raised with the flag to mark 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.
This move was 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. It stated it had expressed dismay and protest to British Ambassador, which is expected to be conveyed to London government.
Except for the South Sumatra and Aceh provinces, homosexuality in Indonesia isn’t explicitly punished. They follow 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.
However, rights groups have claimed recently that Indonesian authorities seek to limit sexual freedoms. According to reports, the parliament plans to change the criminal code and include clauses which could be harmful to the LGBTQ community.
The Human Dignity Trust is an international LGBTQ rights organisation based in London. It claims that homosexuality has not been banned at the federal level. However, it also says that LGBT people living in Indonesia are increasingly being targeted by anti-pornography legislation.
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 last year that the US should not interfere with its domestic political and social matters. This was after an online webinar by the US Embassy featuring a non-profit organization promoting LGBTQ rights.
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.”