Home WorldAsia Podcaster Deddy Corbuzier Turned Down Gay Couple After Welcoming Them

Podcaster Deddy Corbuzier Turned Down Gay Couple After Welcoming Them

by YAR

When a popular podcast host in Indonesia invited two men who were married to each other on his show, they had a polite on-air conversation about gay life and identity.

But in a Muslim-majority nation where gay rights are under threat, the show drew an intense backlash from conservative fans and religious authorities. So the host, Deddy Corbuzier, removed the interview from his social media pages and uploaded a new interview with an Islamic cleric in which he apologized for “causing a ruckus.”

Corbuzier’s 180-degree turn this week highlights the tension in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Even as more gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Indonesia assert themselves and gain acceptance from their families and communities, a conservative movement is trying, with the help of social media, to present those sexual identities as a threat to national harmony.

“There is hostility on online platforms and it amplifies negative public discourse around homosexuality,” said Hendri Yulius Wijaya, author of “Intimate Assemblages: The Politics of Queer Identities and Sexualities in Indonesia.”

“But we must be very careful not to confuse what goes on in public discourse with our daily lives,” he added. “Violence, stigma, negative perception: all these things that we found. But at the same time, we still have a space to navigate our daily lives and be who we are.”

Gay life has been tolerated, if marginalized, for decades in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, and the legal climate throughout the Asia Pacific region has also become more tolerant in recent years. In 2019, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage, a first in Asia, and other landmark laws were passed that took steps toward that goal or moved toward decriminalizing same-sex sex.

In Indonesia, which is officially secular and has laws protecting citizens from discrimination, some politicians began a campaign about six years ago to pass restrictions against homosexuals. They have tried to associate LGBT people with immorality, disease, and the subversion of Indonesian culture. In 2016, under pressure from right-wing Islamic groups, police began arresting gay men en masse, first in public places and later in their homes.

“It’s hard to be gay in this country,” said Gunn Wibisono, a social psychologist in Indonesia who is gay and an LGBT activist. “Very very difficult. We feel like we’re being watched everywhere and we can’t be ourselves.”

Corbuzier’s May 7 podcast, “Tutorial on Being Gay in Indonesia,” featured a conversation with Ragil Mahardika, an Indonesian man, and her husband, Frederik Vollert, who is German, in which they discussed their life together and reflected about homosexuality. identity.

“I would say I was born that way and I’m not making this up,” Mahardika said at one point in the episode. “Ever since I was little, I thought he was different from my friends.”

The podcast episode, which was viewed more than six million times on YouTube, wasn’t really a “tutorial.” And it was mostly about the couple’s life in Germany (which is where they got married in 2018), not Indonesia.

Even so, the consequences for Corbuzier, 45, were not long in coming.

A chorus of fans and religious leaders in Indonesia condemned his interview with the couple, saying he had disrespected Islam by portraying gay life in a positive light. News of the backlash was previously reported by Coconuts, a media company that covers Southeast Asia, and several local media outlets.

One of Corbuzier’s harshest critics was Anwar Abbas, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s main Muslim clerical body. Abbas told the New York Times this week that same-sex marriage was worse than the nuclear bombs the US military dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

“If it’s a bomb, only the people who live in that area will die,” he said. “But if a man marries a man or a woman marries a woman, he will not remain human on this planet; there will be no children on the face of this earth.”

To appease such critics, Corbuzier, who could not be reached for comment, removed the interview from his social media pages. Instead, she posted a new interview she had conducted with Gus Miftah, an Islamic cleric.

In that conversation, Miftah put the podcast host on the defensive as he sought to clarify whether Corbuzier had invited a gay couple on his show because he approved of their behavior.

The answer was no, Corbuzier said.

“If this is really causing a ruckus, I apologize,” he said. “But I am not campaigning for this cause. This phenomenon exists and we must be vigilant”.

So, the clergyman asked, why was the episode advertised as a “tutorial” on how to be gay?

“So people who don’t want to be gay know how to anticipate it,” Corbuzier said. He likened the interview to a video of a motorcycle theft that people could watch to avoid having their own motorcycle stolen.

Mr. Mahardika, 30, who is currently in Jakarta, said in an interview on Thursday that he expected the podcast episode to go viral and was not surprised by the controversy that followed. He also said that while being openly gay in Indonesia makes him fear for his safety, no specific threats arose as a result of the podcast.

“Podcast or no podcast, when people found out I had come to Indonesia, I already had a bad reputation in the eyes of those who saw me as bad,” he said. “But a good name in the eyes of those who see me as Ragil, a human with values.”

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