December 11, 2023
JAKARTA – Despite rising support across Asia for the legalization of gay marriage, a new survey from the Pew Research Center has found that a large majority of Indonesians still oppose the idea.
The survey, which was conducted in 12 countries and territories across Asia from June 2022 to September of this year, revealed that 92 percent of Indonesians are against same-sex marriage, with 88 percent of them strongly opposed to it. In Indonesia, the Washington-based nonprofit think tank interviewed about 950 adults in person.
Indonesia recorded the largest opposition to same-sex marriage, followed by neighbor Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
The survey questioned between 900 and 2,600 respondents in each of the 12 countries and territories surveyed: Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, India and Cambodia.
Pew researchers suggested that Indonesia’s Muslim-majority demographic played a major part in the respondents’ views of gay marriage as a similar trend was also observed in Malaysia, another Muslim-majority country, where 82 percent of respondents said they were opposed.
According to the study, Muslims recorded the lowest support for same-sex marriage of any religious groups in Asia, with only 4 percent of Indonesian Muslims and 8 percent of Malaysian Muslims supporting it.
Aside from Muslims, the survey also found that Christians are among the least likely to support gay marriage while the religiously unaffiliated, such as atheists and agnostics, tend to be among the most likely to support it.
In Singapore, roughly six-in-10 religiously unaffiliated Singaporeans favor same-sex marriage, however, fewer than a third of Christians and Muslims do.
Singapore, along with Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, is where researchers interviewed enough religiously unaffiliated respondents to analyze their responses separately. They found that half or more of this group of respondents support legal same-sex marriage, with Japan reporting the largest amount of support, at 73 percent.
A 2020 Pew study, meanwhile, also found that Indonesians are among the most religious people in the world, with religiously unaffiliated people rarely found in the country.
Trend across Asia
LGBTQ activist Dede Oetomo said he was not surprised by the overwhelming opposition to same-sex marriage among Indonesian respondents given the current sentiment many Indonesians have toward LGBTQ communities.
“I am actually more surprised that there are 5 percent of our people who favor the cause,” Dede told The Jakarta Post recently, adding that having this small fraction is already good enough.
Dede said he realized that the idea of Indonesia changing its stance toward same-sex marriage remained a pipe dream. But seeing the recent trends in Asia, he said, it would not hurt to think that the recent trends in Asia could influence Indonesians in the future.
“Nepal passed a law [that legalizes same-sex marriage] recently, so did Taiwan. Thailand is currently processing the bill – if it passes, the next may be Vietnam and Cambodia. How would Indonesia look if it’s falling behind them?” Dede said.
If the bill is passed by its parliament, Thailand will be the first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Pew research revealed that views of same-sex marriage vary widely in the 12 Asian countries and territories it surveyed.
Opinions toward gay marriage are most favorable in Japan, where 68 percent of respondents say they either somewhat or strongly favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.
In Vietnam, views on legalizing same-sex marriage are similarly positive with 65 percent of adults supporting it. Roughly six in 10 respondents in Hong Kong and Cambodia also favor legal same-sex marriage.
In Thailand, 60 percent of respondents favor allowing gays and lesbians to wed legally and only around 30 percent oppose it, while the remainder either did not respond or said they did not know.
About 53 percent of respondents in India favor same-sex marriage, while 43 percent oppose it.
The research found the median support in Asia for allowing gays and lesbians to marry is 49 percent, while 49 percent oppose it.