Gender and sexual plurality in Indonesia: past and present

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This chapter starts by examining the earliest evidence we have of gender and sexual plurality in Indonesia. Through origin narratives, indigenous manuscripts, reports of early travelers, colonial reports, and material from the reign of independent Indonesia’s first two presidents, I establish a picture of past gender and sexual plurality. The chapter then analyzes gender and sexual plurality from the end of authoritarian rule in 1998 through democratic transition until the “LGBT crisis” of 2016. Beginning in January, 2016, politicians, lawyers, and Muslim clerics called for the confinement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, who were positioned as suffering mental illness, constituting a threat to national security, and violating Islamic norms. The chapter concludes by noting that while there are dangers in drawing upon the past to make current claims of legitimacy, in times of repression and harassment, Indonesia’s queer past should be exploited for political and social advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia
EditorsRobert W. Hefner
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315628837
ISBN (Print)9781138644427
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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