Indonesia tells Facebook and WhatsApp to remove gay emojis

The Indonesian Government has urged social media operators Facebook and WhatsApp to remove gay-themed emojis.

According to reports, the emojis, only introduced in recent years, and which show same-sex couples and families, have already been dropped by messaging app Line.

The government in the increasingly conservative Indonesia has now urged other major social media players to remove the icons for users.


Pro-government newspaper Republika, reports that Line removed the emojis following complaints from users.

The government’s information ministry spokesman Ismail Cawidu said: “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.”

Despite homosexuality being legal in Indonesia, conservative attitudes sometimes prevail in the country which has a Muslim majority.

Following the threats, Cawidu did not specify punishments for social media platforms which do not comply.

The move has been criticised by human rights groups who say it will promote intolerance against the LGBT community.

Ismail Hasani, research director at the Setara Institute told the BBC: “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.”

“Public opinion in our country is predominantly anti-LGBT, but it is deplorable that the government follows this opinion.”

Earlier this year, higher education minister Muhammad Nasir suggested LGBT people should be banned from universities if they engage in public displays of affection.

Russia last year ruled that gay emojis are allowed to stay on iPhones, dropping a lawsuit against Apple.

SAN ANSELMO, CA - MAY 09: The Facebook website is displayed on a laptop computer on May 9, 2011 in San Anselmo, California. An investigation by The Pew Research Center found that Facebook has become a player in the news industry as the popular social media site is driving an increasing amount of traffic to news web sites. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Moscow’s City Court has thrown a lawsuit which claimed emojis showing smiling same-sex couples was a violation of the law that prohibits the ‘promotion of non-traditional sexual relations’.