Indonesia.travel: LGBT visitors in Indonesia may soon face prison time and caning

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Indonesia’s travel and tourism industry wants visitors that are straight, married, and are traveling with a spouse of the opposite gender.

For decades Indonesia has been on the top of the list for LGBT tourists from all over the world. They better think twice before making plans to book their next holiday to Indonesia.

Vacationing in Indonesia with a same-sex partner may be a high-risk adventure unless caning is part of an adventure an LGBT tourist traveling to Indonesia wants to include.

Even though the Indonesia Psychiatrists Association concluded being gay is a mental disorder, lawmakers from all 10 major political parties in Indonesia want to go a step further and throw anyone caught in having gay sex not into a mental institution but into prison for five years.

A visitor from the US recently posted: What an awesome place “My partner and I have visited all spas in Bali till we stumbled across new UME spa. Wow wow wow.…”

These times may be over soon.

Indonesian police guard men arrested in a recent raid during a press conference at a police station in Jakarta on May 22, 2017.
Indonesian police have detained 141 men who were allegedly holding a gay party at a sauna, an official said on May 22, the latest sign of a backlash against homosexuals in the Muslim-majority country. / AFP PHOTO / FERNANDO (Photo credit should read FERNANDO/AFP/Getty Images)

Last year two men were publicly caned 83 times each for having consensual gay sex in Aceh, the province in Indonesia to practice Shariah law.

They were marched onto a stage in front of a mosque. They were dressed in white, and the executioners, as they call them, were dressed in hoods so you couldn’t see their identity.

In front of the crowd of hundreds of people, men and women separated, they were marched to the front of the stage, told to stand still and then they were whipped or lashed on their back with a cane 83 times while a man counted the number over the loudspeaker, and the crowd cheered, booed, some men in the crowd saying, ‘Hit them harder,’ others yelling, ‘Let this be a lesson to you.’

Riding a tsunami of moral conservatism and anti-gay prejudice, Indonesia’s Islamic political parties appear on the cusp of a major victory: outlawing all sex outside marriage.

Revisions to Indonesia’s criminal code being considered by Parliament would allow prison sentences of up to five years for sex between unmarried people. Those changes would also criminalize gay sex, the bugbear of Indonesia’s Islamic and secular political parties.

The bill, which reportedly has support from all 10 of the country’s main political parties.

Rights groups and legal experts fear a profound setback to human rights and privacy in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies, and the spread of vigilantism, already common in parts of the sprawling Muslim-majority nation of more than 250 million people. They are racing to organize opposition. An online petition launched this week has gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

“Indonesia, whose constitution guarantees human rights and has ratified many human rights covenants, will be ridiculed by the world for creating a law that is potentially violating many of those rights,” said Said Muhammad Isnur, head of advocacy at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation.

Also last year Indonesian authorities have arrested 141 men at a sauna in Jakarta for allegedly taking part in a gay sex party. It is the latest crackdown on homosexuality, which is not illegal in the country (except for in Aceh Province), but has routinely been the target of police raids and vigilantes.

Indonesia has classified homosexuality as a “mental disorder”, as a bill to criminalize gay sex is introduced in the country’s parliament.

A report by the Indonesia Psychiatrists Association reads: Gays and bisexuals were at risk of emotional problems such as depression owing to identity crises while transsexuals are susceptible to mental diseases.” A second report was published in 2017 by the Health Ministry. That report claims that “homosexuality was against the ethos of the country”.

In Aceh 12 transgender men were arrested. Authorities shaved their heads in an effort “to turn them into men”.

The conclusion for Indonesia’s important travel and tourism industry: The ideal tourist Indonesia wants to attract: Straight, married, traveling with a spouse of the opposit gender.

 

 

 

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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.