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The emergence of political homophobia in Indonesia: masculinity and national belonging


This paper explores an unprecedented series of violent acts against 'gay' Indonesians beginning in September 1999. Indonesia is often characterized as 'tolerant' of homosexuality. This is a false belief, but one containing a grain of truth. To identify this grain of truth I distinguish between 'heterosexism' and 'homophobia,' noting that Indonesia has been marked by a predominance of heterosexism over homophobia. I examine the emergence of a political homophobia directed at public events where gay men stake a claim to Indonesia's troubled civil society. That such violence is seen as the properly masculine response to these events indicates how the nation may be gaining a new masculinist cost. In the new Indonesia, male-male desire can increasingly be construed as a threat to normative masculinity, and thus to the nation itself. © Routledge Journals, Taylor and Francis Ltd.

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