Conservatives want government to ban new bisexual Superman comic

CNN Indonesia – October 13, 2021
New Superman character Jon Kent kissing reporter Jay Nakamura – Undated (DC Comics)

Jakarta – The deputy chairperson of the peak Islamic body the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), Anwar Abbas, has asked the government to ban the distribution of DC Comics in which Superman is depicted as bisexual.

"For this the MUI is appealing to the government to intervene and ban the distribution of this comic because the content is clearly not in accordance with the values of [the state ideology of] Pancasila and our identity and culture as a religious nation", Abbas told CNN Indonesia on Wednesday October 13.

Abbas said he deplored those who produce comics which promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lifestyles adding that the Superman comic is functioning to socialise LGBT ideas.

For Abbas, this is not in accordance with the natural tendencies of human beings and conflicts with religious teachings and human rights. Abbas believes that humanity could become extinct if everyone on the face of the earth embraces LGBT ideas.

"Furthermore, the MUI is asking the police to arrest the producer and distributer of the comic because the parties concerned have clearly damaged the mentality of the nation's children and next generation", he said.

Must be censored

The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) is asking government agencies to censor the content of the new Superman comic before it enters Indonesia.

"I think that before the comic arrives in Indonesia it must be censored by the state agency tasked to do this. Is this comic suitable or not in the Indonesian context", KPAI Commissioner Jasra Putra told CNN Indonesia on Wednesday.

Putra asserted that the KPAI will be monitoring the content of the comic if it arrives in Indonesia.

Putra believes that it is appropriate for the Superman character as a superhero figure to provide a positive example for the growth and development of children, not the reverse by providing a poor example.

"That indeed our challenge in the future as a nation is to provide content and comics which must be able to be chosen for children", he said.

Furthermore, Putra cited the child protection law which stipulates that all content that is produced must be appropriate for children to see and watch.

He hopes that all content in the form of videos or comics will be in accordance with values which support the growth and development of children.

"So the information provided must be informative and provide education for children and provide cultural, religious and social values. In the Indonesian context there must be Eastern values. Values which are in accord with the national culture", said Putra.

Call for boycott

The United Development Party (PP) is urging the government to boycott products published by DC Comics following the depiction of the new Superman character as a male bisexual.

Superman comics and films are consumed by children and broader society so the PPP believes that they are dangerous.

"The PPP is urging the government to boycott products by the publisher DC Comics which has announced that the new Superman character in its comics is a male bisexual", said PPP Central Leadership Board Chairperson Achmad Baidowi or Awiek in a press release on Wednesday.

Baidowi said that the PPP deplores move by DC Comics and is asking that DC Comics immediately halt production of the comic.

Furthermore, as an Islamic based political party, the PPP believes that bisexuality is evil and shameful (fahisyah) and because of this the PPP does not want the depiction of Superman as a bisexual character to be consumed by Indonesian children.

"We are concerned that if such presentations or comic serials are consumed by Indonesian children it has a strong potential to damage the nation's next generation", he explained.

"We are also asking the government to explicitly block all presentations which depict the despicable actions of LGBT", Baidowi added.

Dangerous for children

House of Representatives (DPR) Commission VIII member Achmad Fadil Muzakki Syah alias Gus Lora from the National Democrats Party (NasDem) said that the DC Comics character depicting Superman as bisexual is dangerous for children's development.

"Bisexuality is very dangerous for children because it's not good. I don't agree with teachings such as this. And Indonesia does not need this kind of thing", said Gus Lora when contacted by CNN Indonesia.

"Yes, that's correct, I think its [its values] are not appropriate [for Indonesia]", he said. He is also asking the government to ban or at least censor the comic.

"I think that if it contains content which smacks of pornography and its distribution should be banned, or if not censored, because comics are read by many children. So if it must circulate, then just censor it", he said.

Gus Lora is also asking the Ministry of Education, Culture and Technology to coordinate with the Ministry of Religious Affairs in responding to the comic.

"There must be cooperation between these two ministries to evaluate and monitor this issue", he said.

Normal part of development

Conversely, Arus Pelangi, an organisation which defends LGBT rights, believes that this is a normal part of development and that DC Comic's move to create a new Superman character will provide a means to inform young children about human diversity.

"This is about a comic. Relating the future plans for this comic is I think is information transparency. For example, children and teenagers must be informed that humanity is not homogeneous", Said Arus Pelangi activist Yuli Rustinawati on Wednesday evening.

Rustinawati said she is not concerned about all the criticism from various parties on banning the comic from being published in Indonesia. "I just laughed, how can they think like this in this day and age. It's like they fumbling around, right. I think this is a form of homophobia", she said.

"Because this is a private matter. Why should the state be disturbed by this? I can't get angry about it because I think it's funny that [the polemic] has gotten so entrenched", she said.

Earlier, DC Comics confirmed that a new Superman character named Jonathan Kent, the child of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, will have a special relationship with a male friend. Jon Kent will be a bisexual Superman who falls in love with Jay Nakamura.

In the comic series "Superman: Son of Kai-El", Jon Kent will confront extraordinary challenges such as climate change, school shootings and mass demonstrations against deportation.

Jay Nakamura meanwhile is a bespectacled reporter who first appears in the third edition of the series. He becomes a source of support for Kent in the face of his heavy burdens as Superman.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on four articles by CNN Indonesia on October 13. The original title of the lead article was "MUI Dorong Pemerintah Larang Komik Superman Biseksual".]