US cancels Indonesia visit by LGBTQ envoy

BenarNews staff
US cancels Indonesia visit by LGBTQ envoy Jessica Stern, the U.S. special envoy for LGBTQI+ rights, speaks at the 2022 World Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Long Beach, Calif., May 2, 2022.
Robyn Beck/AFP

The U.S. government has canceled a trip to Indonesia by its envoy for LGBTQ rights, the American ambassador in Jakarta announced Friday, after the top clerical body in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country strongly denounced the scheduled visit.

Jessica Stern, Washington’s special envoy to advance the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, was scheduled to visit Indonesia on Dec. 7, after stops in Vietnam and the Philippines, the State Department had said on Nov. 28. LGBTQI+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons.

“[A]fter discussions with our counterparts in the Indonesian government, we have decided to cancel Special Envoy Stern’s visit to Indonesia,” Ambassador Sung Kim said in a statement Friday.

He did not go into detail about the specific reason for the cancellation.

“Knowing that around the world LGBTQI+ persons experience disproportionate levels of violence and discrimination, it is important to continue the dialogue and ensure mutual respect for one another, rather than pretending that the issues do not exist,” he went on to say.

“Countries like Indonesia and the U.S. can learn from one another about how to counter hatred and ensure more prosperous, inclusive societies for all.”

On Thursday, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) came out with a statement that did not hold back in speaking out against Stern’s scheduled visit.

The trip was intended “to undermine our nation’s cultural and religious rights,” the council said.

The MUI “cannot welcome a guest whose purpose in coming here is to damage and undermine the noble religious and cultural values ​​of our nation,” MUI Deputy Chairman Anwar Abbas said, calling homosexual behavior “dangerous.”

“If this behavior is tolerated, it will lead to humanity’s extinction, because if men marry men and women marry women, they will not reproduce.”

On Friday, the Associated Press quoted a spokesman for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, as saying that he could not comment about Stern’s visit. When BenarNews reached him the day before, Teuku declined to comment about the local opposition to her trip.

In Indonesia same-gender sex is not a criminal offense in except in its Aceh province, where a conservative form of Islam is practiced, but discrimination against the LGBTQ community appears to be on the rise in the Southeast Asian country.

In May, the government summoned the United Kingdom’s envoy after the British embassy came under fire from conservative Muslim groups and politicians here for flying a rainbow flag in support of sexual minorities.


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Dec 05, 2022 04:24 PM

Good for Indonesia!!! Thank you for standing for what's right.
For the US 'gov' to embrace, sponsor, and promote perversity, and immorality, is the worst reflection on our country. Be assured there are millions of Americans who agree with you, and not the American "government" (such as it is)

Richard Ong
Dec 05, 2022 04:25 PM

Thank you Indonesian Council of Ulema!!

Dec 05, 2022 06:31 PM

You can't expect the rest of the world to share your little dark world.

Dec 05, 2022 06:43 PM

Damned Leftists in the US can't leave other countries to make their own decisions. Soon, most countries will turn their backs on us. We'll have to stand alone against all comers.

Dec 06, 2022 08:15 AM

I’m grateful that all the truly damaging crisis’have been resolved, energy independence, closed borders, crime intervention, etc., such that this gay support envoy has reached the top of the list.