When French lawyer and godfather of gastronomic essays Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first put pen to paper and famously declared, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are," we're pretty damn sure that he didn't expect an Indonesian politician some 191 years later to proclaim that eating instant noodles actually has the ability to "turn" you into a homosexual.
Arief R. Wismansyah, the mayor of the Indonesian city of Tangerang (just west of Jakarta), has shocked the world after asserting that instant noodles and formula milk are actually "making babies gay." He made the unnerving comment during a government-run pregnancy seminar held in Tangerang earlier this week.
Indonesian news publication Okezone states that Wismansyah told onlookers, "To create Indonesian children that are healthy, smart, and competitive, the most important thing is, from the beginning, to provide them adequate nutrition, especially breastfeeding." He went on to explain that as parents get busier and busier in modern times, they've become more reliant on pre-packaged food like instant noodles and canned milk—a trend he credits with somehow turning Indonesia's children into homosexuals. "It's no wonder there are more LGBT [people]," Wismansyah said.
After lobbing that homophobic ditty, Wismansyah didn't leave things there. He then moved beyond food and blamed social media and the internet for spreading LGBT rhetoric and urged parents to monitor what websites their offspring were visiting.
Don't think Wismansyah is alone in Indonesia in his homophobia—other Indonesian politicians have made horrifyingly similar remarks in the past. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, for example, said this: "[The LGBT movement] is dangerous as we can't see who our foes are, but out of the blue everyone is brainwashed—now the community is demanding more freedom. It really is a threat."
Muhammad Nasir, Indonesia's research and higher education minister, has been quoted as saying: "LGBT groups [in Indonesian universities] cannot be allowed to grow or be given any space for all of their activities."
In fact, the hashtag #TolakLGBT has been recently trending in Indonesia—tolak means "reject." Things are not safe for the community in Indonesia, according to an organization called Arus Pelangi ("Rainbow Currents"). A study it commissioned found that almost 90 percent of LGBT people in Indonesia say they have been victims of "psychological, physical, sexual, economic and cultural abuse." Similarly, a Pew Research Center report found 93 percent of Indonesians say homosexuality should be rejected.
We are also sorry to say that Wismansyah is not the only public figure to use the "you are what you eat" theory to bash homosexuals. Back in 2014, a Dutch neuroscientist named Dick Swaab published a book in which he claimed that smoking or taking drugs during pregnancy causes homosexuality in babies. A year earlier, an ultra-orthodox rabbi reportedly banned students from eating soy-based products, claiming that even small amounts could make them seek out homosexual encounters.
Homophobia is a nasty thing. But can't we just leave the food out of it?