Gay-friendly Bali villas are being targeted by local police and powerful anti-LGBT lobbyists, just months after controversial ‘bonking ban’ laws were shelved.
Religious activists are reporting gay-friendly accommodation to police, with any villas being rented to members of the LGBTQ community facing increased scrutiny.
It raises questions about the safety of LGBTQ guests in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
Popular villas advertising themselves as being a safe heaven for members of the community have found themselves being targeted by Badung’s Civil Police.
One villa, Villa Angelo, was subject to a crackdown after advertising said it was exclusively for gay men and clothing was ‘optional’, according to the Daily Telegraph.
It comes as the popular holiday destination is impacted by a renewed religious piety in the country, as well as an increase in Islamist political activism.
Women have even been subject to public floggings in the strict Aceh province, which has Sharia law.
In a worrying statement, police chief Gusti Agung Kerta Suryanegara said they had identified four villas ‘being rented to gays’.
‘We received reports that there are four villas suspected of being rented to gays.
‘Namely Angelo Bali Guesthouse, The Elysian Boutique Hotel, Layan Bulan Villa and Villa Balinea.’
These guesthouses have been told they are not allowed to promote themselves as being gay-friendly, with managers and staff forced to sign an agreement.
The head of Badung’s Cultural Agency, the main area that attracts Australian tourism, even said such villas were ‘tainting Bali’s tourism’.
Bobby Berk, star of the Netflix series Queer Eye, spoke out about the crackdown on social media.
‘Won’t be recommending or coming back if this is how the government here is going to act,’ he said, after previously holidaying in Bali.
There was panic among Bali holidaymakers last year after the Indonesian government threatened to make sex outside of marriage illegal – in a controversial set of proposed laws that led to a global outcry.
Human Rights Watch said the bill would have violated ‘the rights of women, religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as freedom of speech and association’.
It would leave tourists facing up to a year in jail, leaving some worried Australians with no choice but to cancel their holidays.
All same-sex sexual relations would have been automatically banned under the revised Criminal Code, as Indonesia does not recognise gay marriage.
If passed by parliament, the tough new laws would have made consensual sex between unmarried adults a crime.
It would also make it illegal for unmarried couples to live together.
The plans were shelved amid concerns they would severely damage the country’s tourism industry, which attracts around one million Australians every year, but they could still be revised at a later date.
Currently Aceh province is the only one that imposes Sharia law, but if the code is passed it could see more impose the Islamic law.
Activists warned it would pose a risk to civil liberties, such as the mandatory wearing of a hijab, an Islamic veil for women.
It led to mass protests by activists in Indonesia, as well as an outcry from human rights groups.
International law lecturer Professor Melanie O’Brien told Nine News last year: ‘There are lot of people having sex who are not married.
‘It’s a significant part of our culture that we do that.
‘What’s surprising is how many laws they’re looking to pass, and almost all of them are really cracking down on human rights.’