Indonesia Is Destroying Hundreds of LGBT Comics In Its Latest Strike Against the Queer Community

Hundreds of LGBT comics in Indonesia are to be destroyed after a shipment of Chinese comics was intercepted at a major Jakarta post office. The destruction of the comics is just the most recent blow to LGBT rights in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government hasn’t released much information about the comics — including the titles or contents. The only thing we know is that the comics are written in Chinese, but we don’t know if that’s Simplified Chinese, the kind mostly used on the mainland, or Traditional Chinese, mostly used in Taiwan.

M Yusuf, Indonesia’s director of Socio-Culture and Society of the Deputy Attorney General’s Intelligence Affairs (JAM Intel), said, “At the moment, we are still investigating these comics, as well as publishers and we’re still in the evidence collecting phase. But the comics are written in Chinese. If we find the culprit, we will turn them over to police.”

LGBT Comics in Indonesia
Art from ‘Hey, Class President’, a popular yaoi manga by Kaori Monchi.

Interestingly, there’s a burgeoning yaoi fandom in Indonesia. (Yaoi is a genre of Japanese comics, also known as Boys Love, that focuses on gay love stories, but generally directed at a straight, female audience.) While we can’t say for sure if the comics involved were in the yaoi vein — or if they were Japanese comics printed in Chinese — that seems likely, given the genre’s popularity.

Being gay is not illegal in Indonesia outside of the ultra-conservative Aceh province. However, a new bill supported by all ten major parties, could criminalize homosexuality. In addition to that, Indonesia blocked Tumblr last month, and gay apps earlier this year. (Amusingly, Indonesia also called for a boycott on the Australian ice cream treat, Golden Gaytimeeven though Golden Gaytimes have nothing to do with the LGBT community — and aren’t actually sold in Indonesia.)

Indonesia’s crackdown on its LGBTQ citizens has been going on for nearly three years. In May 2017, police in Jakarta arrested 141 men in a gay sauna, accusing them of violating Indonesia’s pornography laws and running a gay prostitution ring — even though the men were privately having sex.

What do you think about the fate of the LGBT comics in Indonesia? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image from 9th Sleep by Makoto Tateno