In news disturbing enough to cause a crying face emoji, the Indonesian government has begun to ban same-sex emoticons, stickers and emoji from messaging apps used by the 250 million-strong nation.
The authorities this week forced Line, a Japanese-Korean messaging app, to remove same-sex and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) themed stickers from its Indonesia-themed store.
Similar bans are expected on Whatsapp, Facebook and Tinder. Companies who fail to comply with the request may be blocked by the ministry’s Negative Content Management Panel.
There is no law against homosexuality in most of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, but government officials have made a number of anti-gay rights statements recently.
Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh, which has adopted Sharia law, made having same-sex relations punishable with 100 lashes. Last month Muhammad Nasir, Indonesia’s minister for technology, research, and higher education, said that the LGBT community should be barred from university campuses, because there are “standards of values and morals to uphold”.