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Google yanks gay dating app from Indonesia online store

Tech Talk
AFP


Jakarta: Google has pulled one of the world's largest gay dating apps from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to government demands, Jakarta said Wednesday, amid a crackdown on the LGBT community.

Officials had called for the tech giant to remove 73 LGBT-related applications, including dating services, from its Play Store, and urged people to shun apps that broke with cultural norms in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.

Communications ministry spokesman Noor Iza confirmed Wednesday that gay dating application Blued -- which boasts more than 27 million users globally -- no longer appeared in the Google Play Store available to Indonesian users.

"There was some negative content related to pornography inside the application," Iza told AFP.

"Probably one or some members of the application put the pornographic content inside."

As of Wednesday, Apple's online store still had Blued available.

Google declined to say whether it would comply with the government demand to remove dozens of LGBT-related apps.

Homosexuality and gay sex are legal in Indonesia -- except in conservative Aceh province, which is ruled by Islamic law -- but same-sex relationships are widely frowned upon and public displays of affection between gay couples almost unheard of.

In Aceh at the weekend, police forcibly cut the hair of a group of transgender women and made them wear male clothing, sparking protests from rights groups.

Elsewhere in Indonesia, police have often used a tough anti-pornography law to criminalise members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and the government's gay apps ban comes against a backdrop of growing hostility towards the embattled minority.

Government officials, religious hardliners and influential Islamic groups have lined up to make anti-LGBT statements in public recently.

Indonesia's parliament is reported to be debating an amendment to the criminal code that could make same-sex relationships and sex outside marriage illegal.

The community has also been targeted in a number of raids on "gay sex" parties in the country's two largest cities Jakarta and Surabaya.

A survey released last week has added to fears that a wave of homophobia is sweeping the nation of more than 250 million, which has traditionally been regarded as a bastion of tolerant Islam.

The survey conducted by respected pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting found that 87.6 percent of 1,220 respondents "felt threatened" by LGBT people and believe Islam bans same-sex relations.

But the poll also found that the majority of Indonesians who were familiar with the term LGBT thought individuals had a right to live in the country.

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