Indonesia’s Controversial Conversion Therapy

Just last month, Kristen Antoinette Gray, an American tourist, and her girlfriend were deported from the Indonesian resort island of Bali after her tweet that celebrated the island as a low-cost and queer-friendly destination went viral. The couple had arrived in Bali in January 2020 and ended up staying through the COVID-19 pandemic. Gray shared her experiences online about living on the island and even posted a link to an e-book she had created which contained visa tips. Gray’s posts were considered to have “disseminated information disturbing to the public,” which was the basis for her deportation. Her description of the island as a welcoming place for LGBT travellers was also among comments that Indonesian officials highlighted. “I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my (tourist) visa. I am not making money in Indonesian rupiah. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am deported because of LGBT,” Gray told reporters. Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, except in Aceh province that was granted the right to practice Shariah law. Hindu-majority Bali is considered more open-minded than other parts of the archipelago. Nevertheless, LGBT Balinese do not enjoy the same privileges as visitors, said Arya from Gaya Dewata Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that provides health and educational services for LGBT people. “It is friendly here for LGBT tourists because they are here as tourists. The people in the tourism business will accept them whatever their sexuality, they will be served well,” he told local media.