Erection of Rainbow Flag by British Embassy In Jakarta Prompts Backlash & Shows Country’s Bigotry

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British Ambassador H.E. Owen Jenkins

The British ambassador was called to Indonesia to answer for his country’s “very disrespectful” actions.

A harmless picture posted on the official Instagram account of the British embassy led to the diplomatic problem.

On May 17, the British Embassy in Jakarta hosted an event with participants from diplomatic circles and the LGBTQ community to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.

The next day, it shared a picture of the rainbow LGBTQ flag flying beside the Union Jack at the embassy.

“Sometimes it is important to take a stand for what you think is right, even if disagreement between friends can be uncomfortable,” the post reads.

Conservative voices chimed in the comments area, prompting a backlash.

“Don’t bring your stupid mind in our country, do what you want in your country,” said one user under the post, serving both homophobia and xenophobia. Double whammy!

Another Indonesian commenter said that animals are better than the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s better to be colonised by 17th-19th century British than 20th century gay British,” expressed one passionate user. Yes, their hate for the LGBTQ+ community usurps their hate towards colonisation… 

According to a statement posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website, the British ambassador to Indonesia, Owen Jenkins, was called on Monday out of “concern and dissatisfaction.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs regards this action as highly insensitive. It requests that the British Embassy and all representatives of friendly countries in Indonesia always respect the Indonesian people’s religious, social, and cultural norms and beliefs,” reads the statement.

It went on to say that Jenkins had observed the Indonesian government’s displeasure and would express it to London.

The spat between Indonesian authorities and the British embassy over an apparently small conduct is only the most recent example of what activists view as increased surveillance of the country’s LGBTQ minority.

There are countless more hate crimes towards the LGBTQ+ community that happened in the past and with this recent debacle, it illustrates that bigots will stop at nothing to voice out their homophobia – even if it is simply in the form of a hateful Instagram comment.

Recently, a controversial new bill was made to modify Indonesia’s penal code which includes sections that would make sex outside of marriage, including gay activities, illegal.

The new bill will most definitely justify violence against the LGBTQ community there.

The LGBTQ community is still heavily stigmatised, and police have been known to target its members using a loosely worded anti-pornography statute that justifies raids on gay clubs and private homes, similar to JAIS.

Though Malaysia and Indonesia have long been at odds, the sister nations demonstrate that blood is thicker than water and that homophobia has yet to be eradicated from the two siblings.