Wed, 06 Jul 2022

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia, this week, summoned the UK's ambassador to explain the raising of a gay rights flag at the British embassy.

It also urged foreign missions to respect local "sensitivities," amidst a backlash from conservatives.

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

According to an Instagram post by the embassy, on 17th May the rainbow LGBT flag was flown with the British flag at the country's embassy in Jakarta to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

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

Teuku Faizasyah, foreign ministry spokesperson, said British ambassador Owen Jenkins had been summoned, stating, "The foreign ministry reminds foreign representatives to be respectful of the sensitivities among Indonesians on matters relevant with their culture, religion and belief."

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

Activists and human rights groups said Indonesia is becoming increasingly intolerant of its LGBT community, as some politicians become more vocal about Islam playing a larger national role.

In a 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center, 80 percent of Indonesians said they believed homosexuality "should not be accepted by society."

Following a backlash over a popular podcast that was forced to scrap an episode this month in which a gay couple was interviewed, Indonesia's chief security minister said a revision of the criminal code being discussed by parliament included some articles aimed at the LGBT community, backed by conservative lawmakers.

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