Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and one of Southeast Asia’s most sprawling metropolises. It is a huge city filled with everything a traveler could want, from beautiful architecture to mouthwatering food, a buzzing nightlife, a diverse and friendly people, and a dizzying amount of shops, markets, and malls. While most visitors to Indonesia skip straight to the beaches and hedonism of Bali, it is worth taking some time to discover the city in order to better understand the country and its people.
That said, Jakarta does not have much to offer specifically to gay tourists, especially when compared to other large Asian cities. Indonesia is a conservative Muslim country whose attitude to homosexuality has only gotten worse in the past couple of years. In 2017, authorities raided and shut down most of Jakarta’s gay clubs, bars, and saunas, leaving the city’s large LGBT community to find alternative spaces to meet and socialize. Now, the gay Jakarta scene still exists but is mostly underground, so it can be difficult to find for visitors.
While this is a shame, Jakarta has much to offer, especially when it comes to food, drink, and entertainment, so we can promise you’ll never be bored.
Due to negative societal views on homosexuality, you would assume that finding gay-friendly accommodation in Jakarta would be tricky. However, the country’s cultural ideas of privacy and discretion mean that it is unlikely that you would get any hassle trying to book a room.
They may assume you want twin beds if you are checking in as a couple, and it would be up to you to clarify otherwise. Do remember of course that homosexuality is legal in Jakarta.
Many gay travelers choose to stay with large international chains since they more or less guarantee a level of professionalism. Most of the luxury hotel chains such as the Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons have locations in Jakarta, but again it is worth reiterating that most hotels will welcome gay travelers.
Indonesia is the most populated Muslim community in the world, and historically this religious sentiment has been used to silence any discussion on LGBT rights. However, since the U.S.A legalized same-sex marriage across the board in 2015, this matter has been brought to the forefront of public discussion. While some groups campaign for LGBT rights in the country, the government has taken a strong anti-gay stance.
Recent attacks by homophobic groups, both verbal and physical, have led to a more hostile environment for gay people throughout the country. Furthermore, a series of raids by the authorities in 2017 led to the closure of most of the city’s gay spaces. Any LGBT apps have been removed from the Indonesian Play Store, and there is generally a concerted effort to prevent gay people from getting together.
In legal terms, homosexual activity is not illegal, but there is no protection for LGBT people from hate crimes and discrimination. It is illegal to show homosexuality in the media, and no political party in the country openly supports the LGBT movement. As the capital, Jakarta may be slightly more tolerant than the country’s rural communities, but it is still very much not advised for gay visitors to engage in any sort of public display of affection.
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