Instagram deletes gay Muslim comic strip after Indonesia outrage

The now-deleted account, which had about 6,000 followers, published a dozen posts depicting a gay Muslim man named Alpantuni who talked about discrimination and his life in a conservative family. — Reuters pic
The now-deleted account, which had about 6,000 followers, published a dozen posts depicting a gay Muslim man named Alpantuni who talked about discrimination and his life in a conservative family. — Reuters pic

JAKARTA, Feb 13 — Instagram today shut down an account that published comic strips about the struggles of a gay Muslim in Indonesia after it sparked a backlash in the world’s biggest Islamic nation.

The move comes after Indonesia’s communications ministry sent a letter to the social media giant warning that the “pornographic” content violated an electronic information law.

The now-deleted account, which had about 6,000 followers, published a dozen posts depicting a gay Muslim man named Alpantuni who talked about discrimination and his life in a conservative family.

“My family is very religious. I have to pray five times a day, but I’ve got a secret,” the character said in one strip that has since been deleted.

“I’m very pious in front of others, but in private I’m gay.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia — except in Aceh province under the region’s Islamic law — but a backlash against the vulnerable LGBT community is growing and same-sex relationships are widely frowned upon.

The comic strip sparked heated online debate with some conservatives branding it immoral.

“Please remove this account and put whoever runs it in prison — this is indecent,” one Instagram user wrote.

“It’s not only blaspheming Islam but it is also destroying morality.”

Others said it was an honest portrait of gay life in the world’s biggest Muslim majority country.

“Gay Muslims are real. Gay Muslims being persecuted by people in their neighbourhood and their conservative families is real,” said one Twitter user. 

In October, an Indonesian man was arrested for running a Facebook page that catered to the gay community.

Also last year, Google pulled Blued, one of the world’s largest gay dating apps, from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to government demands. — AFP