Angering Indonesian Netizens And The Ministry, A Gay Comics Account On Instagram Vanished

An Instagram account posting gay comic strips depicting the struggles of a gay Muslim, has angered people in Indonesia.

Just like on any other social media platforms, anything can be posted and shared. While different people have different opinions, religious matters are taken more seriously in Indonesia.

Islam condemns any sort of sexual relationship of the same sex, and in the country that has the most Muslim population in the world, homosexual is certainly something that is frowned upon.

The Ministry of Communications said that an Instagram account under the username Alpantuni has stirred national controversy.

It was deemed pornographic, and violated the law on information and electronic transactions.

"The result of the verification process shows that the content of Alpantuni’s Instagram account violates Article 27 paragraph 1 of the 2008 law on Electric Information and Transactions on the distribution of pornographic content," said Ferdinandus Setu, the ministry's spokesman.

The Communications and Information Ministry earlier requested the account to be shut down, with Minister Rudiantara threatening to block the social media site if the request was not fulfilled.

Instagram removed account
Accessing Alpantuni's account on Instagram shows that it is no longer available

Alpantuni was a Malaysian comic strip made in collaboration Il Grande Colibri, an Italian organization dedicated to increasing representation for LGBT.

It posted comics depicted gay characters facing discrimination and abuse in Indonesia (available in different languages), which has become increasingly common in the country since late 2015 when conservative politicians and religious leaders began a campaign of portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) as a threat to the nation.

The character in the comic tells the story of a practicing Muslim man named Alpantuni, who, despite growing up in a religious family, is gay.

The Aplatuni account then disappeared, including one account on Facebook with the same name. While people said that it was Instagram that removed it after responding to the Indonesian ministry's request, but the company's spokesperson said that:

"Instagram did not remove this 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.

This is because the account which had nearly 6,000 followers, didn't violate the company’s "community guidelines."

Pier Cesare Notari, of Il Grande Colibri, dismissed the notion the comics were pornographic. While some of the strips showed the characters in sexual situations, Notari said that it's the stories of the main character confronting a homophobic society that led to its censorship.

Some of Alpantuni's comic strips that stirred controversy

Facebook and all its properties, are regularly in the crosshairs of regulators, rights groups and the public as it frequently failed to balance what CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called “giving people a voice.”

As for Indonesia, the government has blocked numerous websites that include gambling, pornographic websites as they are illegal in the country. Indonesia has also threatened numerous online services, such as Telegram for hosting terror-related channels.

But the country has never put strict measures against them, due to the fact that most western online services are popular among Indonesians.

The request was made following a series of complaints from Indonesian netizens who found the comic strips offensive.

The ministry, Ferdinandus said, appreciated the public for reporting the controversial Instagram account and Instagram for “speeding up the process of taking the account down.”

Indonesian netizens congratulated the ministry, with one thanking the officials for "acting decisively" to protect public morality.

The ministry is calling on netizens to report any "negative" social media accounts to @aduankonten on Twitter, the website or their contact numbers.