Indonesia wants gay-themed emojis removed

WhatsApp emojis showing same-sex couples and families Image copyright WhatsApp
Image caption WhatsApp and other platforms are being asked to remove any LGBT-themed emojis

Indonesia wants social networking sites to remove any emojis representing same-sex couples, it's reported.

One popular messaging app, Line, has already dropped all LGBT-themed emojis, after saying it had received complaints from users. Now the Indonesian government is asking major players like Facebook and WhatsApp to follow suit and remove the icons for users within the country, the Republika newspaper reports. "No social media may show items that smack of LGBT. Because we have our own rules, like religious values and norms, which they must respect," information ministry spokesman Ismail Cawidu is quoted as saying.

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, but prevailing conservative attitudes in the Muslim-majority country make open discussion of sexuality controversial. Mr Cawidu did not specify what would happen if companies refused to remove the emojis.

But one human rights group says any such censorship will promote intolerance. "It brings to the public the message that LGBT is something which must be opposed, and then the public, through various organisations, will enact such opposition, says Ismail Hasani, research director at the Setara Institute. "Public opinion in our country is predominantly anti-LGBT, but it is deplorable that the government follows this opinion."

In January, Indonesia's higher education minister, Muhammad Nasir, said gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people should be barred from university campuses if they engage in "public displays of affection".

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