Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's OK to be gay in Indonesia so long as you keep it quiet

Some might fear persecution being gay in the country that has the largest Muslim population in the world. But in Indonesia a huge gay film festival is held every year. What does is really mean to be gay in Indonesia?

John Badalu has been organizing the Q! Film Festival for the past 10 years. It is the biggest gay film festival in Asia and the only one of its kind in a country with a majority of Muslim inhabitants. The 38-year-old says it is possible to live a pretty free life as a homosexual in Indonesia's big cities but the challenges are increasing.

Last year, the Q! Film Festival was attacked by the radical Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which accused Badalu and his team of showing pornographic films. They threatened to burn down the venues if the festival was not stopped.

Convinced that his organization was on firm ground, Badalu and his team refused and the festival was held in five big cities. A few months before, an international gay conference that was supposed to be held in Surabaya in East Java had been cancelled after coming under attack from the same radical group.

Badalu is not overly concerned. He says it is not just gay people that FPI is targeting, but also other minorities such as members of the Islamic movement Ahmadiyya.

"If anything is against Islam in their interpretation, they will go against it, they will go and bash them," explained Badalu further. However, according to Badalu, there has never been gay bashing in Indonesia.

To read more: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6456222,00.html


Source photo: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6456222,00.html

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