World’s 4th-largest country seeks to block gay apps

Rudiantara, Indonesia's Communication and Informatics Minister. (Photo courtesy of Netral)
Rudiantara, Indonesia’s Communication and Informatics Minister. (Photo courtesy of Netral)

Indonesia has asked Google to block about 70 LGBT social networking apps from being available to download in the country through the Google Play Store.

The information ministry of the world’s fourth-largest country has tried to block them on its own, but cannot. Google has not yet responded to the request.

CNN Indonesia covered the news (rough Google translation here), as did the online news site Coconuts Indonesia, which reported:

Indonesia’s IT Ministry asking Google to block Blued and other LGBT networking apps

Indonesia’s IT Ministry says it has filed a request to Google to block around 70 LGBT social networking apps from being available to download in the country through the Google Play Store.

IT Minister Rudiantara confirmed today that the ministry is unable to block the apps themselves as they are all available under Google’s platform. One of the apps Rudiantara mentioned was Blued, a gay dating and social networking app that claims to have 27 million users worldwide. He also spoke of the ministry’s difficulties containing the app and its website ever since finding out about them in 2016.

“Blued kept moving [domains], they have changed their DNS (domain name system) six times,” he said, as quoted by CNN Indonesia today.

The ministry’s request represents the latest act of discrimination against the minority group by the Indonesian government. This would be the equivalent of them asking Google to block Tinder for perpetuating heterosexual relationships (though the app also supports same-sex relationships), which the ministry has have never done.

Google has not released any statement on the matter.

Members of the LGBT community in Indonesia have faced increasing levels of persecution since a moral panic over gay rights erupted in 2016, with homophobic hysteria perpetuated through hoaxes and legitimized by governmental authorities.

While LGBT and human rights defenders in Indonesia celebrated a small victory in December, when the Constitutional Court rejected a petition that would’ve made homosexual acts (and all forms of consensual sex outside of marriage) illegal, authorities have shown that they don’t need a clear legal basis to arrest homosexuals when they can just twist the country’s ambiguously worded pornography law towards that purpose.

Location of Indonesia (Map courtesy of Geology.com)
Location of Indonesia (Map courtesy of Geology.com)

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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