Indonesia Has Started Banning Emojis

The Indonesian government is calling for the removal of gay-friendly emojis…

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(Image credit: Rex)

The Indonesian government is calling for the removal of gay-friendly emojis…

Indonesia is calling for social networking sites to remove any emoticons that could have LGBT connotations…yes we’re actually serious. LINE, a popular smartphone messaging app recently removed its LGBT-themed emoji collection following a barrage of complaints from its 30 million Indonesian users. The ‘offensive’ icons in question are the LGBT emoji range of same sex couples holding hands with a love heart in between them. Umm…we’re waiting for the offensive part… Homosexuality is technically legal in Indonesia but the emoticons caused ‘public upset’, supposedly contradicting the country’s conservative values and predominantly Muslim faith. Just checking, we are still talking about emojis right? Since commending LINE for their public apology and speedy removal of the ‘offensive’ images (that definitely aren’t offensive), the Indonesian government has asked for the big league apps like Facebook and WhatsApp to get onboard, removing gay-friendly icons for users within their country. Surely the Indonesian government has more pressing matters to attend to? ‘We have our own rules, like religious values and norms, which they must respect,’ explained Ismail Cawidu, the Information Ministry spokesman. Sadly there are no existing laws to protect Indonesian citizens from sexuality-based discrimination and its LGBT community are under constant threat, faced with attacks, forced evictions and the blocking of LGBT rights organisation websites on a daily basis. Being outwardly gay is still taboo with higher education minister, Muhammad Nasir, calling for LGBT students to be banned from university campuses if they engage in public displays of affection. Kicked out of University for PDA…whatever next? In other provinces of Indonesia, Maceh for example, it only gets worse with homosexuality described as an offence punishable by 100 lashes, some Muslim groups suggesting the death penalty as a more apt retribution. The fact that so much trouble can be caused by an emoji seems pretty ridiculous and it would almost be funny if it wasn’t so heartbreaking, but it is heartbreaking, very much so.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.