This week, government officials in Indonesia asked Facebook and WhatsApp to block emojis with LGBT motifs.
“Social media must respect the culture and local wisdom of the country where they have [a] large numbers of users,” said Ismail Cawidu, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Communication and Informatics.
Ignoring the request could land Facebook before the ministry’s Negative Content Management Panel, which can ban websites.
Line, another social media platform, recently removed its LGBT emojis at the ministry’s request. Cawidu said the Korean-based company “understands the norms, culture and religions in Indonesia.”
While homosexuality is legal in most of Indonesia, LGBT people face social censure throughout the country and the northern province of Aceh adopted a Sharia law measure punishing same-sex relations with 100 lashes.
Human Rights Watch has pointed to the request as the latest in a rash of homophobic rhetoric from the government and has called on President Joko Widodo to “defend the fundamental rights of all Indonesians.”