Indonesia is experiencing a rash of anti-LGBT sentiment — and the government is completely supporting it. The country's government is calling for drastic measures to ensure that the country's LGBT community remain marginalized and demonized, the Communications Ministry's call to ban gay and lesbian-themed emoji across several apps being one of the more brow-raising proposals. 

Line, a popular messaging app, has already complied with the government's demands and removed several emoji on its online store that featured cross-dressing and men in towels.

A sample of emoticons from Line's online store.

photo: Screengrab via

The Ministry has now turned its attention to WhatsApp, a messaging app owned by Facebook that's used by over 900 million people worldwide.

"Social media must respect the culture and local wisdom of the country where they have large numbers of users," Information and Communication Ministry spokesman Ismail Cawidu said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press last week.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, the country has a history of taking draconian measures toward LGBT citizens. In 2014, lawmakers in one Indonesian province passed a law that punished gay sex by "public caning," according to the Associated Press. Just last year, two young women were arrested for "hugging in public."

Sadly, it's not just the government cheerleading these hateful measures. Many social media users are sending homophobic memes around Facebook and Twitter. TV cleric Abdullah Gymnastiar, who has 1.7 million followers on Twitter, has taken aim at LGBT-themed emoji and even Starbucks.

"It turns out Starbucks really supports and contributes to LGBT causes, so each cup becomes a donation." he said in the tweet,

Sadly, the state-sponsored homophobia seems like it's just getting started. 

"It has been one thing after another," Dede Oetomo, a gay rights activist, told the New York Times. "At first, I thought it was just a storm in a teacup. But the teacup is getting bigger."

Revelist has reached out to Human Rights Watch (HRW) for comment.