Gay Muslim Instagram Account Deleted Following Pressure From the Indonesian Government

The comic strip focused on being gay amidst religious bigotry.

An Instagram account featuring a comic strip with gay Muslim characters has gone dark following pressure from the Indonesian government.

The account, @Alpantuni, first appeared in January with the tagline, “Gay Muslim comics for people who are able to think,” The New York Times reports, and dealt with issues of being gay in a country that doesn’t accept you. While the characters were seen shirtless and in bed together, it did not include depictions of nudity.

anti-gay protest Indonesia
Adriana Adinandra/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Demonstrators protesting against the LGBTQ community in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Information Ministry sent Instagram a letter on February 2 asking it to shut down the account, claiming it violated an Indonesian law on distributing pornography, according to Ferdinandus Setu, a ministry spokesman. He added that they also threatened to shut down Instagram entirely in the country if it did not comply with its request regarding the account.

Setu claimed the post was removed on Wednesday, and added that Instagram had capitulated to the ministry’s request to take down an account with a nearly identical name a few weeks earlier.

But Instagram told The Times it decided not to remove the account, as it had not broken any of the company’s terms of service.

“There are a number of other reasons why an account may no longer be accessible, including, for example, if the account holder deleted the account, deactivated the account or changed the account user name,” Ching Yee Wong, the company’s head of Asia-Pacific communications, said. The company did not, however, answer a question regarding whether it removed an account with a similar name.

Indonesia gay man lashes
CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images
A member of Indonesia’s Sharia police whips a man accused of having gay sex during a public caning ceremony outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh province on July 13, 2018.

There are no protections for the LGBTQ community in the Muslim-majority country, which also bans marriage equality.

In 2017, police used an anti-pornography law to raid a gay sauna in Jakarta, and in February of last year, Indonesian officials declared homosexuality a mental disorder. In July of 2018, two men were publicly canned, given 87 lashes each, for engaging in gay sex.

The Alpantuni Facebook and Twitter accounts are also no longer active.

“We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons,” a Twitter spokesperson told NewNowNext when asked about the account.

We have reached out to Instagram and Facebook for comment and will update if we receive a response.

UPDATE: Instagram has clarified it did not delete the other account similar to the Alpantuni account.

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