Although many human rights defenders cheered last month when Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rejected a petition that would have criminalized homosexual acts, the court decision did little to mitigate the country’s rampant homophobia (in fact, it probably increased it to some degree). Virulently anti-LGBT Indonesians not only oppose gay rights but have threatened to oppose anybody, including businesses, that support gay rights. Companies ranging from Starbucks to Facebook have been threatened with boycotts from Indonesians offended by their executives’ statements in favor of LGBT rights and marriage equality.
However, the latest company threatened with a boycott by anti-LGBT Indonesians was targeted, not for any statements made by the company but for the name and appearance of one of its most delicious and beloved products – Golden Gaytime ice cream bars.
Above is one example of the posts that went viral on Indonesian social media recently featuring a photo of the fabulous “Rainbow Gaytime” ice cream bar produced by Walls, which is a subsidiary of international conglomerate Unilever. The post argues that Islam condemns homosexuality and says, “If there are some who say Islam is a paranoid religion then you could say that is true, because the Muslim people do not want to experience the afterlife (like those who disobeyed God)”.
So apparently rainbow colored ice cream treats with the word “gay” on them fall under the poster’s definition of justifiable anti-LGBT paranoia. And many agreed, with enough people calling for a boycott of the ice cream’s manufacturer that Unilever Indonesia actually released a press statement to clarify that Golden Gaytime ice cream bars are not even sold in Indonesia while also distancing themselves from the notion that they would ever sell anything that would be so contrary to “the cultural and religious values and norms in Indonesia”:
Responding the news on social media about Walls Gaytime Ice Cream, Unilever Indonesia, the owner of Walls explains as follows:
The Gaytime ice cream mentioned in the social media are not the products of Wall’s Indonesia.
Unilever has been in Indonesia for 84 years and we respect and upholds the cultural and religious values and norms in Indonesia. We always ensure that our products, activities and campaigns in Indonesia are suitable for Indonesians from different backgrounds.
Furthermore, all products from Wall’s that are sold in Indonesia have obtained halal certified from LPPOM MUI. Walls Indonesia just received the LPPOM MUI award as Halal Top Brand 2017.
Golden Gaytime ice cream bars (which are toffee and vanilla ice-cream dipped in chocolate and wrapped in honeycomb biscuits, yum) are in fact only available in Australia, where they are a beloved brand. First released in 1959, they were named during a time when the word “gay” was usually used to mean happy or carefree, although in recent years the company’s marketing has embraced its name’s modern connotations.
The “Rainbow Gaytime” bar pictured in the viral posts was also not officially produced by Walls but was instead created by a fan specifically for the Sydney’s Mardi Gras.
The threat of any actual boycott seems to have evaporated after Unilever’s clarification. The misinformation behind the viral posts was also thoroughly debunked by the good folks at Indonesian Hoaxes.
But the anti-LGBT paranoia in Indonesia is far from licked. We can only hope that one day all Indonesians will be able to come together and just enjoy delicious ice cream treats without worrying about any possible effects on their sexual orientation or immortal souls.