British Embassy sparks fury by hoisting LGBT rainbow flag in Indonesia as ambassador is summoned

British Embassy sparks fury by hoisting LGBT rainbow flag in Indonesia: UK accused of ‘sullying the country’s sacred values’ as ambassador summoned for explanation in Jakarta

  • Jakarta called on foreign envoys to respect local sensitivities after backlash
  • Gay sex is legal in the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, except Aceh
  • Same-sex relationships in province can result in public flogging under law
  • The embassy posted a picture on Instagram of a rainbow flag on its premises

Indonesia summoned Britain’s ambassador on Monday to explain the raising of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) flag at its embassy.

Jakarta called on foreign envoys to respect local sensibilities in a country where same-sex relationships remain taboo.

Gay sex is legal in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, except in one province, Aceh, where same-sex relations are illegal and can result in public flogging under local Islamic law.

There is widespread discrimination against the LGBTQ community and some gay Indonesians have been arrested under an anti-pornography law.

The embassy posted a photo of a rainbow flag on its premises on Instagram last week to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. It came with a message of support for LGBTQ rights.

The embassy last week posted a photo (above) on Instagram of a rainbow flag on its premises to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

A backlash ensued among conservative Indonesians online in response to the social media post.

Alumni 212 Brotherhood, an influential conservative Islamic movement, said in a statement that the flag tainted “Indonesia’s sacred values”.

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta summoned British Ambassador Owen Jenkins to explain himself.

“The action, as well as the posting (of the photo) via the official British Embassy social media account, is highly insensitive,” ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said on Monday.

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta summoned British Ambassador Owen Jenkins (pictured) to explain

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta summoned British Ambassador Owen Jenkins (pictured) to explain

“The ministry would like to remind foreign envoys to respect the sensitivity of cultural and religious values,” he added.

Influential Tories had chastised the Embassy for displaying the Rainbow Flag alongside the British Union Flag.

The chairman of Indonesia’s main body of Islamic scholars, the Indonesian Ulema Council, said the diplomatic mission was disrespectful for openly supporting LGBTQ rights.

“We have to scold them as guests, you have to know their place and understand the standards of the country where they are,” Cholil Nafis wrote to his 68,000 Twitter followers on Saturday.

Although tolerated elsewhere in the country, the LGBTQ community faces increasing pressure on its rights and freedoms.

Influential Tories had chastised the Embassy (pictured) for displaying the Rainbow Flag alongside the British Union Flag

Influential Tories had chastised the Embassy (pictured) for displaying the Rainbow Flag alongside the British Union Flag

Islamists and conservative lawmakers have attempted to criminalize same-sex relationships, and openly gay people are often discriminated against.

Conversion therapy, including exorcism to “cure” homosexuality, is still common, and same-sex relations are banned in the military.

A 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center also showed that 80% of Indonesians believe that homosexuality “should not be accepted by society”.

Indonesia’s security minister last week said a revision to the penal code being debated by parliament included articles aimed at the LGBT community, a move supported by some conservative lawmakers.

His remarks followed a backlash over a popular podcast which was forced to remove an episode this month in which a gay couple was interviewed.

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