Gay Emoji Ban: Rights Group Condemns Indonesia Statement

15/02/2016 5:19 PM AEDT | Updated 15/02/2016 5:19 PM AEDT
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A move by Indonesia's government to ban same-sex emoticons in messaging apps has been condemned by human rights groups.

Information and Communication Ministry spokesman Ismail Cawidu said last week social media and messaging platforms should drop stickers expressing support for the LGBT community.

"Social media must respect the culture and local wisdom of the country where they have large numbers of users," he said.

He later told French news agency AFP there was a concern colourful emojis and stickers could appeal to children.

“Those things might be considered normal in some Western countries, while in Indonesia it's practically impossible,” he is reported to have said.

In a letter to president Jokowi Widodo, Human Rights Watch said the government should publicly condemn officials who make “grossly discriminatory remarks” against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“President Jokowi should urgently condemn anti-LGBT remarks by officials before such rhetoric opens the door to more abuses,” Human Rights Watch LGBT rights director Graeme Reid said.

“The president has long championed pluralism and diversity. This is an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment.”

The Indonesian government is obligated under international law to protect everyone in the country regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Human Rights Watch said.

Outrage was sparked last week when after Japan-based app LINE'S announced it would be remove LGBT-themed stickers from its Indonesian store after receiving complaints from Indonesians on social media.

Indonesia's National Commission of Human Rights has reportedly said recent statements made by public officials vilifying the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community is a violation of human rights.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, however it is a sensitive issue in the Muslim-majority nation.

Aceh, Indonesia's northernmost province has adopted Sharia law and made same-sex relations punishable with 100 lashes.

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