Bali guesthouses investigated by authorities for ‘catering to gays’ and ‘tainting’ island’s reputation

At least four villas in Bali, Indonesia, are being investigated for “marketing themselves specifically for the gay community”, amid increasing anti-LGBT+ sentiment on the island.

Although the island of Bali has historically been seen as one of the most tolerant places in country, in general discrimination and violence against LGBT+ people is on the rise in Indonesia.

Gay sex is currently legal in most regions of the country, including Bali, but there are no discrimination protections for LGBT+ people and same-sex relationships are not recognised.

In 2018, an Indonesian province where LGBT+ people face rife persecution announced that it wanted to introduce beheadings, and in 2019 new laws were proposed to ban sex between unmarried couples and make it illegal for unmarried couples to live together.

According to Coconuts Bali, a villa in the beach resort Seminyak first received attention on social media, which alerted authorities.

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The Facebook page of a villa under the name “Angelo Bali Gay Guesthouse”, which has since been taken down, made headlines for catering to the gay community.

Some of the photos d on the page by the guesthouse reportedly featured photos of gay male couples, and on TripAdvisor it is described as “a small, luxurious, all-men, clothing-optional gay guesthouse”. According to its website, the villa stopped operating on January 9 with no explanation.

I Gusti Agung Ketut Suryanegara, head of Bali’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), said: “We received a report, including the one on social media about this villa, accommodation or a guesthouse marketing themselves specifically for the gay community… Here in Bali we don’t recognise that culture.”

The head of the Badung regency’s cultural agency, I Made Badra, also said the existence of the villa was “tainting Bali’s tourism” reputation.

Since then, authorities have said that three other villas in Seminyak and Kerobokan are also catering to the LGBT+ community.

AA Oka Ambara Dewi, a Badung regency Satpol PP officer, said that the agency had summoned the owners of the guesthouses to check their documents.

He said: “We will do it according to our standards of procedure so we will check their permit documents and whether or not they match what they are allotted for, if there is proof that it [caters to the gay community] then we will temporarily seal the property.” It is unclear what the next steps would be, or whether the businesses would be permanently closed.