Effeminate Male Characters Banned From Indonesian Television

Male actor may not wear drag, call each other by women's names or make "overtly female" hand gestures.

KPI, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, has banned male actors from behaving and dressing as women on television, reports the Jakarta Globe.

According to a memo circulated last week, male actors and hosts must follow strict gender guidelines: They may not wear drag or makeup, speak like a woman or use feminine hand gestures, call another man by a woman’s name or use nicknames commonly associated with women.

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They may also not walk or sit in an “overtly female” manner. (There goes our idea for an Indonesian version of Drag Race.)

Programmers were reminded of the regulations after receiving complaints that transvestite and transgender characters were influencing younger viewers.

The KPI, which ensures all broadcasts conform with “religious and cultural norms,” has cracked down before: Indonesian comedian Kabul Basuki, a.k.a. drag star Tessy, was banned from the airwaves in 2009.

kabul-basuki tessy

A wave of rabid homophobia has been sweeping through the once-moderate Muslim country: Last year, Indonesia’s top Islamic council called for the death penalty for homosexuals.

In the past few weeks alone, Defense Minister Ryamizad Ryacudu has accused gays of trying to destroy the Indonesian people, and government officials banned LGBT emojis on Facebook.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.