Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Gay Muslim Indonesian comic strip vanishes after outrage

MANILA: An Instagram account that published comic strips about the struggles of a gay Muslim in Indonesia vanished from the site Wednesday after it sparked a backlash in the country.

The government initially said the social media giant had responded to a demand to remove the “pornographic” content.

But later Wednesday, Instagram said it had not removed the account.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

The now-deleted account, which had about 6,000 followers, published a dozen posts depicting a gay Muslim man named Alpantuni who talked about discrimination and his life in a conservative family.

“My family is very religious. I have to pray five times a day, but I´ve got a secret,” the character said in one strip that has since been deleted.

“I´m very pious in front of others, but in private I´m gay.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia — except in Aceh province — but a backlash against the LGBT community is growing and same-sex relationships are widely frowned upon.

The comic strip sparked heated online debate with some conservatives branding it immoral.

“Please remove this account and put whoever runs it in prison — this is indecent,” one Instagram user wrote.

Others said it was an honest portrait of gay life in the world´s biggest Muslim majority country.

“Gay Muslims are real. Gay Muslims being persecuted by people in their neighbourhood and their conservative families is real,” said one Twitter user.

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