Indonesia pressures Instagram over gay Muslim comic strips

JAKARTA (Reuters) – An Instagram account displaying comic strips depicting the struggles faced by gay Muslim men was removed on Wednesday after authorities labeled it “pornographic” and threatened to block the platform.

Indonesia’s communications ministry said that Instagram had taken down the account, under the name @Alpantuni, at its request because it was in breach of regulations on content.

But Instagram said it was not involved.

“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 username,” an Instagram spokesman told Reuters.

Reuters was not able to reach the account holder.

The removal of the site comes amid government and public hostility towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Communications Minister Rudiantara had earlier warned that Instagram could be blocked in Indonesia if the account was not removed.

“Materials promoting LGBT are against health rules, religious rules and cultural norms. It is not in accordance with Indonesia,” the minister told CNN Indonesia.

The comic strips reviewed by Reuters before they were taken down portrayed a young gay man from a religious Indonesian family struggling with his identity.

They included an image of two men in bed and the main protagonist later being bullied over his sexuality. The account had more than 6,000 followers.

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