This past Wednesday, Indonesia further restricted LGBTQ rights when officials enacted a ban on Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy, along with 80 other gay dating apps. The ban, orchestrated by the Communications and Information Ministry, National Police, Religious Affairs Ministry and the Indonesian Ulema Council, as well as other representatives, was concocted during a closed-door meeting at the Ministry of Communications.
The argument behind the prohibition is that LGBTQ apps have allegedly been used to facilitate gay child prostitution rings and are in direct violation of Indonesia’s pornography law.
The Director of Information Security at the Ministry of Communications, Aidil Chendramata, issued a statement to Buzzfeed News saying, “The participants of the meeting all agree to block websites promoting LGBT,” due to the fact that, “Most of the contents… leading toward pornography [and have] violated the law on pornography and the law on child protection.”
This ban followed a recent attempt in March by the Indonesian Ulema Council to criminalize homosexuality. That same month, lawmakers also discussed a potential proposal involving restrictions for online LGBT “propaganda.”
The outcome of the decision to ban LGBTQ dating apps sparked outrage and upset among LGBTQ advocates and within the community as a whole. Yuli Rustinawati, chair member of Arus Pelangi, an Indonesian LGBTQ advocacy group, feels banning gay apps is not a reasonable response to fighting child sex trafficking. Rustinawati spoke to the impact of the ban, stating, “If gay applications are closed down, it only makes the community even more isolated as they won’t be able to find friends via the virtual world.”
The internet often acts as a safe haven for people in the global LGBTQ community. Apps and social media are utilized as an outlet for the community in Indonesia and all parts of the world, helping LGBTQ individuals escape feelings of isolation and shame.