More bad news for LGBT population of Indonesia
Indonesia has agreed to block dozens of gay websites and apps in a crackdown on so-called “gay propaganda”
Homosexuality has never been illegal in the Islamic country, but attitudes towards LGBT people have become steadily more extreme in recent years despite a growing gay population.
This week it was announced that the country’s government will clamp down on gay culture, instituting a new ban on internet “gay propaganda” after a request from the police.
Communications ministry spokesman Noor Iza confirmed to AFP that gay networking apps including Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy would be blocked in the country, claiming they were “promoting gay lifestyles”.
Opponents of LGBT rights in the country claim the apps harbour an online paedophile ring – but advocates say they are using the issue as a Trojan horse to enforce homophobic censorship.
Iza said the country was “starting to block LGBT applications” that promote “sexual deviancy”.
While just a few have been identified, Buzzfeed reports that a total of more than 80 other apps and websites with LGBT content will face a ban in Indonesia, including LGBT news outlets.
As the list has not been made public, it is unclear whether PinkNews will remain available.
Yuli Rustinawati, chair of LGBT group Arus Pelangi said: “If gay applications are closed down, it only makes the community even more isolated as they won’t be able to find friends via the virtual world.
“It is quite strange to ban people from finding friends.”
If enforced, Indonesia would join countries including China and the United Arab Emirates, which attempt to censor gay content online.
Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country.
Grindr, Hornet, and a total of more than 80 other apps and websites with LGBT content face a ban in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, following a closed-door interagency summit held Wednesday at the country’s Ministry of Communications.
“The participants of the meeting all agree to block websites promoting LGBT,” Aidil Chendramata, director of information security for the Ministry of Communications, told BuzzFeed News following the meeting. The panel included representatives from the Ministry of Human Development, the National Police, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which was represented by a member of the country’s Muslim clerics association. “Most of the contents are leading toward pornography [and have] violated the law on pornography and the law on child protection,” Chendramata said.
The move comes several months after the Ministry of Communication announced it would craft a ban on LGBT “propaganda” in March, part of an unprecedented crackdown on LGBT rights in the country. The Constitutional Court is separately considering a petition that could make homosexuality a crime in Indonesia for the first time.
The meeting was initially convened to review a police request to block Grindr and 17 other gay apps they allege were used by a child prostitution ring. But the meeting reviewed a broader list, said Ericson Siregar, an officer with the National Police Criminal Investigations Department who participated in the meeting, because the Ministry of Communication had “previously investigated gay applications” and identified dozens for “promoting LGBT.”
“We would be pleased if the communication ministry blocked [gay apps] without hesitation because the smell of pornography is so strong on them, such as exhibiting nudity,” Siregar said.
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