After people in Indonesia complained, an interview with a gay couple was taken down.
The segment on a popular podcast hosted by Deddy Corbuzier angered religious leaders and showed how far gay people can go in a country where most people are Muslim.
When a popular podcast host in Indonesia asked two gay men who were married to each other to come on his show, they talked about gay life and identity in a polite way.
But in a country where most people are Muslim and gay rights are at risk, the show got a lot of pushback from conservative fans and religious leaders. So, the host, Deddy Corbuzier, took the interview down from his social media pages and posted a new interview with an Islamic cleric in which he apologized for "making a ruckus."
This week, Mr. Corbuzier did a complete about-face, which shows that there is tension in the country with the most Muslims. Even though more gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Indonesia are coming out and being accepted by their families and communities, a conservative movement is using social media to try to show that these sexual identities are a threat to national harmony.
Hendri Yulius Wijaya, who wrote "Intimate Assemblages: The Politics of Queer Identities and Sexualities in Indonesia," said that there is hostility on online platforms, which makes the public talk about homosexuality in a bad way.
"But we need to be very careful not to mix up what is said in public with what we do every day," he said. "Violence, shame, and bad opinions are all things we have to deal with. But at the same time, we still have a place where we can go about our daily lives and be ourselves."
In Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, gay life has been tolerated, if not encouraged, for decades. The legal climate in the Asia-Pacific region has also become more accepting over the past few years. In 2019, Taiwan made same-sex marriage legal, which was a first for Asia. Other important laws have also been passed that either moved toward this goal or made gay sex less illegal.
Indonesia is a secular country with laws that protect people from discrimination. About six years ago, some politicians started a campaign to pass anti-gay laws. They have tried to say that LGBT people are bad, sick, and trying to change Indonesian culture. Right-wing Islamic groups put pressure on the police in 2016 to start arresting gay men in large numbers, first in public places and then in their homes.
Gunn Wibisono, who is gay and works as an LGBT activist in Indonesia, said, "It's hard to be gay in this country." "Very, very hard. We feel like everyone is watching us and we can't be ourselves."
In Mr. Corbuzier's May 7 podcast, "Tutorial on being gay in Indonesia," Ragil Mahardika, an Indonesian man, and Frederik Vollert, a German man, talked about their life together and thought about what it means to be gay.
At one point in the episode, Mr. Mahardika said, "I'd say I was born this way, and I'm not making this up." "Ever since I was a child, I thought I was different from my friends."
More than six million people watched the podcast episode on YouTube, but it wasn't really a "tutorial." And it was mostly about their life in Germany, not in Indonesia, where they got married in 2018.
Even so, Mr. Corbuzier, 45, got in trouble quickly.
Fans and religious leaders in Indonesia criticized his interview with the couple, saying that it was disrespectful to Islam because it made gay life look good. Coconuts, a news company that covers Southeast Asia, and a few local news outlets had already told people about the backlash.
Anwar Abbas, the vice chairman of Indonesia's Ulema Council, the top Muslim religious body in the country, was one of Mr. Corbuzier's harshest critics. This week, Mr. Abbas told The New York Times that same-sex marriage was worse than the nuclear bombs that the U.S. military dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
"Only people who live in that area will die if it's a bomb," he said. "But if a man marries a man or a woman marries a woman, there will be no more people on this planet and no more children to be born."
Mr. Corbuzier, who could not be reached for comment, took the interview down from his social media pages to make his critics happy. In its place, he put up a new interview he had done with an Islamic cleric named Gus Miftah.
In that conversation, Mr. Miftah put the podcast host on the defensive by asking if Mr. Corbuzier had invited a gay couple on his show because he liked how they behaved.
Mr. Corbuzier said that the answer was "no."
"I'm sorry if this is really making a fuss," he said. "But I'm not a supporter of this cause. This does happen, and we must be careful."
So, the religious leader asked, why was the episode called a "tutorial" on being gay?
Mr. Corbuzier said, "So that people who don't want to be gay know what to expect." He said that the interview was like a video of a motorcycle being stolen that people could watch to keep their own motorcycles from being stolen.
In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Mahardika, who is 30 years old and lives in Jakarta, said that he knew the podcast episode would go viral and was not surprised by the controversy that followed. He also said that being openly gay in Indonesia makes him worry about his safety, but that the podcast hadn't led to any specific threats.
"Podcast or no podcast, by the time people knew I'd come to Indonesia, I already had a bad name in the eyes of those who thought I was bad," he said. "But a good name among people who know me as Ragil, a good person."