In what will likely end up being a level of intolerance balanced by its effect on the Indonesian tourist dollar, the seemingly LGBT friendly Bali, off the coast of East Java and some of its gay-friendly establishments are coming under some scrutiny.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia except for the province of Aceh, which enforces strict Islamic law. But a leader, I Made Badra of the Cultural Agency in Badung, a regency of Bali, says the very existence of gay establishments is “tainting Bali’s tourism”.

In recent weeks the news website Coconuts reported that a villa in the resort town of Seminyak was at the center of investigations by the Public Order Agency. A Jan. 10 article stated, “Authorities on the island have since expressed their disapproval based on their belief that homosexuality is against cultural norms in Bali.”

One of the tourist spots targeted was The Angelo Bali Gay Guesthouse. Its Facebook page was brought to the attention of Bali authorities who objected to the online description of the guesthouse as an “exclusively gay, clothing-optional resort” located “one block from the gay bars”.

Three days after the Coconut’s article, a British online newspaper PinkNews reported that another three villas catering to gay guests were being investigated. An officer from the Public Order Agency told PinkNews it would examine the permits of each of the properties and if any proof of them catering to gays arose, the properties would be temporarily sealed.

The reports point to the rising anti-LGBT sentiment in predominantly Muslim Indonesia. A vote in September 2019 that would have made extramarital sex a crime was delayed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the last minute. Considering that gay marriage is not recognized in the country, any sexual act between people of the same gender would have been deemed illegal and the participants subject to arrest.

The LGBT community carries some clout because Bali depends a lot on the tourism industry. Closing LGBT- friendly establishments would impact a significant part of the island’s economy. Travel Gay, an online travel and lifestyle guide, said of the island, “Beautiful landscapes, sandy beaches and [a] friendly gay scene make Bali one of Asia’s most popular gay destinations.”

Statistics from the World Travel Market event held in London in 2018 showed that gay people spend more and travel more than straight people. The London event estimated that $218 billion was the amount spent each year by those who identify as LGBT.

It remains to be seen if those that hold attitudes of intolerance and homophobia in Indonesia are willing to accept the drop in tourist income if well-heeled LGBT folks move on to friendlier beaches.