Indonesia’s House of Representatives is set to pass a law that will ban all LGBT characters from television programs broadcast in the country, the Jakarta Post reports.
“We can’t allow LGBT behavior on TV. It is against our culture,” says NasDem Party representative Supiadin Aries Saputra. “We have to ban it early before it becomes a lifestyle. It’s dangerous and can ruin the morality of the younger generation.”
In compliance with the new broadcasting bill, all TV programs would need to be screened by a censorship bureau, including commercials and documentaries. This bill would also prevent news media from reporting on any LGBT rights issues.
“I am sure there are still more creative ways to entertain people [than with LGBT characters],” adds National Mandate Party representative Hanafi Rais.
As part of the country’s continuing crackdown on homosexuality, male actors have already been banned from behaving and dressing as women on TV, including Indonesian comedian Kabul Basuki, a.k.a. drag star Tessy. Government officials have also called to ban LGBT emojis and LGBT apps such as Grindr.
Although homosexuality is technically not a crime in most of Indonesia, the semi-autonomous northern province of Aceh, which has been governed by Sharia law since 2001, adopted a measure in 2015 that punishes same-sex relations with up to 100 lashes.
Aceh caned 339 people last year for offenses such as gambling to adultery, but the caning of two gay men in May, which appears to be Indonesia’s first public caning as a punishment for homosexuality, attracted unwanted international attention.
The gay men, ages 23 and 20, were given 83 lashes each in front of some 3,000 spectators. The men had been arrested in March after neighbors barged into their rented room and detained them while police arrived.
Following global outrage, Indonesia announced plans earlier this year to put an end to public floggings. Instead, they will cane people behind closed doors and away from cameras.
Acehnese leaders such as governor Irwandi Yusuf are reportedly worried that videos of these public floggings, which have been widely circulated, will make the province unappealing for potential investors.
Under the leadership of president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Indonesia has seen an increase of anti-LGBT statements from militant Islamic government and religious officials calling for the criminalization of homosexuality, as well as escalating anti-LGBT harassment and violence.
A police chief in West Java, Indonesia’s most populous province, recently announced plans to deploy a task force whose sole operative will be to identify and persecute LGBT citizens.