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Indonesia summons Britain's envoy over rainbow flag flown outside embassy

ABC News - May 23, 2022

Indonesia summoned Britain's ambassador on Monday to explain the raising of an LGBT flag at its embassy and urged foreign missions to respect local "sensitivities" following a backlash among conservatives.

Barring the sharia-ruled province of Aceh, homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, although it is generally considered taboo.

The rainbow LGBT flag was flown alongside the United Kingdom flag at the embassy in Jakarta on May 17 to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, according to an Instagram post by the embassy.

In a post accompanying the photograph of the flag, the embassy said the UK believed all people "should be free to love who they love".

"Sometimes it is important to take a stand for what you think is right, even if disagreement between friends can be uncomfortable," they said.

"Harassment and violence are a routine part of LGBT+ lives, everywhere. This must change."

Alumni 212 Brotherhood, an influential conservative Islamic movement, in a statement said the flag sullied the "sacred values of Indonesia".

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah confirmed UK ambassador Owen Jenkins had been summoned.

"The foreign ministry reminds foreign representatives to be respectful of the sensitivities among Indonesians on matters relevant with their culture, religion and belief," he said.

A UK embassy spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Faizasyah said despite an embassy being sovereign territory, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations stipulates that only that nation's flag can be flown.

Indonesia is becoming less tolerant of its LGBT community as some politicians become more vocal about Islam playing a larger role in the state, according to activists and human rights groups.

A 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center also showed 80 per cent of Indonesians believe homosexuality "should not be accepted by society".

Last week, Indonesia's chief security minister said a revision of the criminal code being considered by parliament included some articles aimed at the LGBT community, a move backed by some conservative politicians.

His remarks followed a backlash over a popular podcast that was forced to scrap an episode this month in which a gay couple was interviewed. (Reuters/ABC)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-23/indonesia-summons-britains-envoy-over-rainbow-flag/10109293