Indonesian government seeks to ban LGBT-themed emojis from instant messaging platforms

The Information and Communications Ministry of Indonesia has requested that tech companies doing business in the country remove from instant messaging apps emojis or stickers that have LGBT themes.  Naver Corporation, which owns the messaging app Line, removed LGBT content before the government made the request, after receiving a barrage of complaints.

Ismail Cawidu, the ministry spokesman, said that they would specifically ask Facebook, the owner of the popular instant messaging platform WhatsApp, to remove LGBT emojis, stating, “social media must respect the culture and local wisdom of the country where they have large numbers of users.”

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest country, but there has been some backlash against LGBT rights from government and societal figures in the past weeks.  The Education Minister recently made disparaging remarks about LGBT students in universities, and police forced a hotel to shut down an LGBT gathering after receiving pressure from the radical Islamic Defenders Front.  Human Rights Watch has called on President Jodowi Widodo to confirm his administration’s commitment to the human rights of all Indonesians.

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