Persecution of LGBT people in Indonesia is increasing at an alarming rate, but some of the country’s poorest villages have made a surprising show of Pride by repainting large sections of town in rainbow colors.
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It started in the impoverished communities of Kampung Warna-warni and Kampung Tridi in Malang, and then spread to Kampung Kali Code in Yogyakarta, before we hit peak rainbow with the completion of a $22,000 redesign of 232 buildings in Kampung Pelangi (or “Rainbow Village”) in Semarang.
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Repainting dilapidated structures in bright hues, it’s hoped, will attract tourists and pump desperately needed money into village coffers. So far, it seems to be paying off: Droves of visitors have been pouring into Kampung Pelangi to snap selfies.
With the success of Kampung Pelangi, other Indonesian villages may be inspired to rainbowify their town squares. Whether residents know the rainbow’s connection to the LGBT community isn’t clear, but the symbolism is poignant given the country’s rising wave of homophobia.
Though homosexuality isn’t illegal, government ministers and Islamic organizations began a sustained assault against the LGBT community last year.
Most recently, police in West Java announced the formation of a “task force” specifically to identify and persecute LGBT citizens, who suffer from a “disease of the body and soul,” according to police chief Anton Charliyan.
“I hope there [is]… no gay or LGBT lifestyle or tradition. If there’s anyone following it, they will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted in society.”