Earlier this year, we heard rumors of an April protest in Washington D.C. led by white supremacist bodybuilders that never materialized (as far as we know). Perhaps a small group of Indonesian gym bunnies heard of the idea and decided to do their own version because an anti-gay bodybuilder protest recently occurred in the nation’s capital city of Jakarta.
According to The Gaily Grind, a small group of four bodybuilders “ran down the streets shirtless and oiled up, carrying signs and flexing for the media.” Their signs read: “Do not let Indonesia become Sodom and Gomorrah,” “Act decisively against LGBT, destroyer of the nation’s morals” and “Gyms are not a place of sin.”
The last sign refers to a recent incident in Jarkata when police arrested 141 gay men after a raid at a popular sauna and gym. Police accused the men of violating Indonesia’s pornography laws and running a gay prostitution ring, forced the men to strip down for photos and then later published them alongside the men’s names and areas of residence on social media.
Here’s a video of the bodybuilder protest (in which they wear do-rags, put flowers in their hair and lift heavy rocks):
Their weird little man show would be lot funnier if it didn’t follow a wave of increasing anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the nation. The Jakarta gym raid followed a similar raid in the city of Surabaya in early May, the public caning of a gay couple in the conservative province of Aceh, the creation of an anti-LGBTQ police task force in Jakarta and the passage of laws forbidding businesses from hiring LGBTQ people and forcing LGBTQ people into so-called “conversion therapy” to become heterosexual.
Since 2016, the nation’s psychiatric association has called LGBTQ identity “a mental disorder” and the country’s defense minister called the LGBTQ movement more dangerous than nuclear war. Arus Pelangi, the nation’s only LGBTQ organization, says it receives 10 reports of anti-LGBTQ violence, intimidation, evictions, and or institutional discrimination each month.
On the upside, a coalition of 27 international groups recently issued a public statement asking the government and allies to help end the country’s anti-LGBTQ abuses. Their statement reads in part:
“these violations threaten the privacy and human rights of all Indonesians. If local police are permitted to target one group of people in this way, then other individuals and groups in Indonesia are also potentially at risk of the same kind of treatment. If the law does not protect everyone, then ultimately it protects no one.”