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The LGBTQ community is fighting an uphill battle for its rights in Indonesia. We can say it faces more prejudice and legal challenges than communities in most other Asian countries.

Indonesia is not the most conservative country in the world, but homosexuality and cross-dressing are frowned upon, and this reflects on social policy. At the moment, same-sex couples in Indonesia are not eligible for any of the benefits available to opposite-sex couples. Indonesian law does not protect transgender persons against hate crimes and discrimination. These crimes and their severity have increased in recent years.

Slowly but surely, the LGBT community in Indonesia is becoming more politically active and visible. Some families understand and accept their trans members’ identities.

Gender Expression and Identity

Transgender people in Indonesia are called waria and have been part of society and culture for a long time. In fact, trans individuals are generally better-accepted than lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Unfortunately, they have faced growing rejection and discrimination in recent years, mostly from Sharia-supporting groups, whose popularity in the world’s biggest Muslim country is increasing.

Under Islamic Sharia law, homosexuality is illegal and carries the punishment of flogging. Same-sex marriage is not recognized in the country. Religious mores speak against it and it is unacceptable according to members of the government, many of whom have gone on record saying so. The fact that human rights in general are not in an enviable state in the country is another matter, albeit a relevant one.

Complex Social and Legal Status

Transgender persons have a complicated status in the country. The public is somewhat tolerant of transgender persons working in the entertainment industry and establishments like beauty salons. The country has a famous and widely supported trans talk show host called Dorce Gamalama.

It is legal to change your gender on official documents if you’ve had sex reassignment surgery, but you need official approval from a court of law. You’re also allowed to marry a person of the same biological sex after undergoing surgery.

Sadly, acts of harassment, discrimination, and violence directed at trans people are not uncommon in Jakarta and other parts of the country. Unless they hide their gender identity, transgender people find it hard to get jobs and are forced into illegitimate employment or other illegal activities to make a living.

Meeting Trans Persons in Indonesia

It’s important to be aware of the situation in the country if you’re interested in trans dating in Jakarta and Indonesia. Always meet in public places in daylight or in the privacy of your residence. If you’re staying at a hotel in Jakarta, inquire about the staff’s policy on meeting trans people at their establishment.