Indonesia Bans Gay Dating App As Caution Urged For Australian Tourists


Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Google has reportedly removed a dating app for gay and bisexual men from the Indonesian version of its online store, as the country’s crackdown on its LGBTI community continues.

This month, Indonesian officials pressured the tech giant to pull 73 LGBTI-related applications from the Google Play store.

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Communications ministry spokesperson Noor Iza confirmed to Agence France-Presse that Blued, a popular app for gay men in Asia, would no longer be available in the store.

“There was some negative content related to pornography inside the application,” he told AFP.

“Probably one or some members of the application put the pornographic content inside.”

Iza said he didn’t know if a similar request had been made of Apple, which still offered the app to iPhone users through its App Store.

Homosexuality isn’t illegal in most of Indonesia, but police in the Muslim-majority country have used Indonesia’s strict anti-pornography legislation to target members of the LGBTI community in recent years.

Indonesian lawmakers are also currently considering a bill, which reportedly has widespread political support, that would make gay sex punishable by up to five years in prison.

On the Smartraveller website, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) makes a general recommendation that all Australian travellers to Indonesia “exercise a high degree of caution.”

A DFAT spokesperson said, “We encourage all Australians travelling to Indonesia to read the travel advice at Smartraveller.gov.au as part of their research.

“The travel advice includes information on local laws and customs. It also includes information for LGBTI travellers.”

According to the Smartraveller advisory, Australian tourists to Indonesia should “pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.”

“While homosexuality isn’t illegal in Indonesia (noting information on the exception of Aceh below), some by-laws and local regulations, for example on pornography and prostitution, are sometimes applied in a way which discriminates against the LGBTI community,” the advisory reads.

“Homosexuality is illegal in the province of Aceh and can be punishable by corporal punishment.”

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At the weekend, police in Aceh detained and forcibly cut the hair of a group of transgender women and forced them into male clothing, prompting outrage from human rights groups.

Two men whom neighbours caught in bed together in Aceh were caned 83 times at a public ceremony in May last year.

Indonesia’s LGBTI community has also been targeted in a number of raids on “gay sex” parties in the country’s major cities.

Last week, two Indonesian men were arrested for allegedly uploading a video of themselves having sex to social media and would be charged under the country’s anti-pornography laws, according to local police.

(Pictured: Indonesian president Joko Widodo)