It's not that the Indonesian government has ever been a bastion of LGBTQIA+ rights, but the fiasco surrounding Deddy Corbuzier's podcast has become a reminder of just how homophobic some of the people running the country are.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding a recent podcast episode featuring a married gay couple, several politicians have emerged in the public sphere to capitalize on the hot button issue of LGBTQIA+ rights.
Tifatul Sembiring, a lawmaker for the conservative Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) who will forever be known as a key figure in Indonesia's futile crusade against online pornography, is one politician who has called for the criminalization of non-heterosexual relations. In a tweet posted yesterday, Tifatul challenged a statement by Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD in which the latter seemingly defended the rights of LGBTQIA+ people to coexist in a democratic Indonesia.
Maaf Prof., ?@mohmahfudmd? scr hukum mungkin begitu, anda lebih ahli. Masalahnya adl nilai bangsa. Sila pertama itu Ketuhanan YME, artinya bangsa Indonesia ini beragama. Dan tidak ada agama yg membolehkan LGBT. Harap Prof. jadi mizholah nilai2 bangsa https://t.co/IdyZSZylBZ – Tifatul Sembiring (@tifsembiring) May 12, 2022
The chief security minister's response was arguably more troubling.
Ustadz, bc dulu utas sy. Sy sdh usul sejak 2017 agar LGBT dan Zina segera dihukumkan di KUHP. Tp Antum di DPR tak kunjung mengesahkan. Kita tak bs melakukan tindakan hukum heteronom kalau blm dihukumkan. Kita hny mengandalkan sanksi otonom. Kapan itu disahkan R-KUHP? Kita tunggu – Mahfud MD (@mohmahfudmd) May 12, 2022
"I have recommended since 2017 for LGBT [people] and premarital sex to be outlawed by the KUHP (Criminal Code). But you in the DPR (House of Parliament) did not ratify such suggestions. We can't carry out a heteronomic legal action if it's not against the law. When will [the criminalization of LGBT and premarital sex] be ratified in a bill? We are waiting," Mahfud wrote.
Indonesia does not criminalize same-sex relations and other forms of queer expression. However, amid regressing societal attitudes towards the discriminated minority in recent years (in large part due to virulent homophobia espoused by politicians and religious leaders), politicians in 2017 did seriously discuss plans to introduce laws that would make homosexual acts between consenting adults illegal.
While that has not come to pass, the government has done little to protect the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. This has led to, among other repressive activities, police raids and the criminalization of homosexuals on trumped-up charges, such as pornography and "porno action," as well as self-appointed moral vigilantes harassing LGBTQIA+ citizens with impunity.
Even Deddy Corbuzier, who hosts one of the country's most popular podcasts, buckled under the immense pressure of societal homophobia. Amid condemnation and calls for a boycott against him, the celeb took down the controversial podcast episode and issued an apology to the public.