Press Freedom in Indonesia
2 min read

The Government of Indonesia is proposing a media bill that raises serious concerns about freedom of expression. The bill, if passed, would ban “LGBT content” and heavily restrict investigative journalism across all broadcast and streaming platforms.

This move has sparked outrage from civil society organizations, journalists, and filmmakers who see it as a blatant attack on press freedom and artistic expression.

While homosexuality isn’t illegal in most of Indonesia, the country remains deeply conservative, especially regarding LGBTQ+ issues. The proposed ban aligns with growing pressure from religious and political forces opposed to LGBTQ+ inclusion.


The bill goes beyond LGBTQ+ content. It aims to censor broadcasts depicting “violence, mysticism, negative behaviours or lifestyles that could potentially harm the public.” This vague wording raises red flags about potential censorship reaching far beyond LGBTQ+ topics.

Investigative journalism, a cornerstone of a healthy democracy, is also under fire. The proposed revisions offer little detail, but journalist groups fear it could lead to widespread censorship of critical reporting on issues like corruption and environmental crimes.

The government of Indonesia claims the bill won’t silence the media, but critics remain unconvinced. Budi Arie Setiadi, the Minister for Communication and Information, assures the public that press freedom won’t be muzzled. However, the proposed restrictions directly contradict this claim.

Budi Arie Setiadi Comnuications Minister for the Government of Indonesia
Budi Arie Setiadi

The timing of this bill is particularly concerning. In April, Apple’s openly gay CEO Tim Cook visited Indonesia to discuss potential manufacturing partnerships. This proposed media crackdown sends a mixed message about Indonesia’s commitment to inclusivity and openness.

The bill is currently in its early stages and subject to change. However, the Indonesian Press Council, a media watchdog group, has already expressed serious concerns about its impact on media independence.

“We reject the Broadcasting Bill,” said the Chairman of the Press Council, Dr Ninik Rahayu, in a press conference.

“We respect the plan to revise the Broadcasting Law but question that Press Law Number 40 of 1999 was not included in the consideration of the Broadcasting Bill.”

The international community will be watching closely as Indonesia navigates this controversial legislation.

The proposed ban on LGBTQ+ content and investigative journalism raises serious questions about the country’s commitment to a free and open society.

Last Updated on May 27, 2024

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