Male Actors Not Allowed to Show Effeminate Behavior on Screen, Says Broadcasting Body

Comedian Kabul Basuki, third right, was banned from appearing on television in 2009 for his role as Tessy, a transvestite, in the comedy group Srimulat. (Antara Photo/Teresia May)

By : Anselmus Bata | on 5:41 PM February 24, 2016
Category : News, Featured, Human Rights

Jakarta. The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, or KPI, has forbidden local television stations from showing male actors behaving and dressing as women, according to a circular letter issued on Tuesday (23/02).

The KPI claimed the regulation was not a new one, but decided to send out a reminder after receiving complaints from concerned members of the public who feared that transvestite or transgender characters would somehow influence younger viewers into believing such behavior was "normal."

According to the circular, a male host or actor of a television show is bound by seven rules of behavior when appearing on screen: he may not dress as a woman or wear "feminine" make up; he should no use overtly female body language, which includes but is not limited to the manner of walking and sitting, and hand gestures.

Actors are also forbidden to speak like a woman, encourage other men to act like women or justify the feminine attributes of a man, call another man by a woman's name and, finally, use terms and expressions commonly associated with women.

The circular added that these rules were initially issued as part of its 2012 Broadcasting Program Standards, stipulated in articles 9, 15, and 37, as well as in article 4 of the 2012 Broadcasting Behavior Reference. The latter, it said, orders broadcasting agencies and production houses to respect and conform to the country's so-called religious and cultural norms.

The KPI said it will intensively monitor all broadcasting content and is ready to punish those caught violating the regulation.

This not the first time the commission has delivered such a threat – and followed through on it. Indonesian comedian Kabul Basuki, who shot to fame as his transvestite, on-screen persona Tessy, was banned from appearing on television in 2009.

Tessy was a prolific part of the popular comedy group Srimulat, but the ban effectively ended Kabul's career, sending him into a downward spiral of drug use. He was arrested in an October 2014 drug bust in Bekasi, on the eastern outskirts of Jakarta, and was subsequently sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Though the Indonesian government has yet to officially declare war against the LGBT community, a slew of top state officials have come forward to air their farcical comments and condemnation of a lifestyle they say goes against the country's religious teachings and culture.

On Tuesday afternoon, Yogyakarta Police shut down a rally supporting the LGBT community at the Tugu Monument, citing the group's failure to secure the proper permits to conduct a demonstration.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Ryamizad Ryacudu accused the LGBT movement of  being part of a "proxy war" to destroy the Indonesian people's mentality.

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