Indonesia wants Gay Emojis to be banned from Facebook, WhatsApp

By Cheri Cheng - 12 Feb '16 13:49PM

Indonesian authorities stated that they will be asking Facebook and the highly popular app, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, to get rid of all of their same-sex emojis. The authorities had already asked the messaging service, Line, to ban the use of these emojis.

Ismail Cawidu, the spokesperson at the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, argued that social media should represent and respect the ideologies of the country, reported by a news outlet, Detik. The agency also reported that companies who do not listen to the nation's recommendation might have to face the Negative Content Management Panel.

Line agreed on Tuesday to remove all stickers linked to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community from its Indonesian store. Ismail praised the company's decision, stating that Line "understands the norms, culture and religions in Indonesia."

The New York-based Human Rights Watch, on the other hand, stated that the "hateful rhetoric by public officials against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people is very concerning. The group penned a letter asking President Joko Widodo to take a stand and "defend the fundamental right of all Indonesians."

"President Jokowi should urgently condemn anti-LGBT remarks by officials before such rhetoric opens the door to more abuses," said Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at HRW, reported by the Jakarta Post. "The President has long championed pluralism and diversity. This is an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment."

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) echoed the HRW's statement, condemning the statements made against the LGBT community and calling on the law enforcement to continue to protect the rights of every Indonesian, regardless of sexuality.

Although the President has not commented, some leaders have spoken out in support of the LGBT community. The Chief Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan stated on Friday that LGBT members "are still Indonesia citizens and have rights to be protected."

Same-sex relationships are not illegal in Indonesia, where 95 percent of the population is Muslim. They are, however, heavily shunned upon.

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