Indonesia is a diverse and charming cluster of islands located just to the north of Australia. Rich in history, culture, and decadent food, Indonesia, and more specifically, Bali, remain atop many peoples’ travel bucket lists. However, before visiting this island nation, it pays to learn about LGBTQ rights in Indonesia. You might find yourself wondering, “Is Bali safe for gay and lesbian travelers?” In general, gay rights in Bali are few and far between. While homosexuality itself is legal in all but a few ultra-conservative parts of the country, Equaldex reveals that there are no protections in place against discrimination in housing and employment. Gay marriage does not exist, and same-sex couples are denied the legal benefits of those in heterosexual marriages. Gay adoption in Indonesia is also prohibited.
Compared to the many majority-Muslim nations, Indonesia has a relative tolerance for LGBTQ people. Still, a traveler from a developed Western European country would be shocked by the lack of LGBTQ rights in Bali. Discrimination is common in the workplace, and there have been recent violent attacks on LGBTQ people. While there is a long cultural history of transgenderism in the country, this backstory has not led to a sturdy framework of trans rights in Indonesia. Transgenderism is generally more accepted than homosexuality in Indosesia, and yet trans rights in Indonesia are practically non-existent. Indonesians can legally change gender identity, but only with approval and sex reassignment surgery.
LGBTQ rights in Bali and the rest of the country have been notably absent for decades, although recent years have seen an uptick in targeted violent episodes. Since 2016, there have been increased reports of harassment, often perpetrated by the authorities themselves. According to the latest Gay Travel Index by Spartacus, Indonesia scored -4% in terms of overall LGBTQ rights, with religious influence and hostile local attitudes being a large contributing factor.
While Jakarta may be the capital of Indonesia, Bali is perhaps the most known and popular destination, with tourists flocking to the idyllic island year round. But before you book your trip to Bali, you’re likely to wonder, “Is Bali safe for LGBTQ travelers?” Bali actually has a reputation as a surprisingly gay-friendly city. There is a gay area in Bali, and the city’s government explicitly states that gay travelers are welcome. And while anti-gay sentiment is still to be found, Bali’s residents are largely accepting. There can be no doubt that the Jalan Camplung Tanduk Arcade in Seminyak is the gay area in Bali, with many bars and clubs catering to LGBTQ clientele. So while there may be a lack of explicit LGBT rights in Bali, there answer to the question, “is Bali safe for gay and lesbian travelers?” remains a surprising yes.
When wondering about gay rights in Bali, you might ask yourself about the possibility of Pride events in the city. Bali does indeed host a Pride Parade every June, which takes place in conjunction with a fabulous arts festival. Considering the lack of LGBTQ rights in Indonesia in general, you will not be shocked to read that this is the only Pride-related event in the entire country, and still, it is not as robust or lavish as some of the other Prides we have come to expect across the globe. That said, the very occurrence of a Pride Parade represents the type of attitude that sets LGBT rights in Bali apart from those in the rest of Indonesia.
So despite Indonesia as a whole having an issue with LGBTQ rights in general, is Bali safe for LGBTQ travelers specifically? Yes it is. Just be aware of the recent problems, and find safe lodging through misterb&b to ensure a favorable experience in this tropical paradise. Booking through misterb&b is also a great way to connect with local LGBTQ hosts, and support the community. So if you are dreaming of afternoon cocktails in the sun alongside an idyllic beach, pencil in a vacation to Bali and enjoy this tropical part of the globe.