The team at the world’s most popular gay dating app, Blued, was shocked and disappointed when access to its app was widely banned in Indonesia.
In mid-January the Indonesian Ministry of Communications and Information asked Google to block access to 73 LGBTI themed apps in its Play Store.
The Ministry particularly focused on Blued and said it wanted it blocked because it may contain pornographic material.
Two weeks later Google Play blocked Blued to new users, but would not say if it was due to pressure from the government.
‘We adhere to applicable local law in the countries in which we operate, but don’t comment on individual apps,’ a Google spokesperson told Gay Star News at the time.
Chinese-own Blued boasts 27 million users worldwide. More than 600,000 of those are in Indonesia with Blued saying it could not believe it had been blocked.
‘It’s quite shocking and disappointing to find out that Google removed Blued from its Indonesia Play Store since Google has been known as a company which respects diversity and constantly supports the LGBT community,’ Blued’s overseas marketing manager, Jason Lin told Gay Star News.
‘Blued has been providing services to the Indonesian gay community for almost two years.
‘We strictly obeyed Google’s policy and worked with local LGBT organizations to provide various services such as HIV-prevention.’
Persecuting the LGBTI community
Blued has become a casualty in Indonesia’s ongoing crackdown of the LGBTI community. Indonesian authorities have blocked its website domain multiple times, even though it is not illegal to be gay there.
The crackdown has seen mass arrests of allegedly gay men under the country’s anti-pornography laws.
Aceh, is the only province in Indonesia that adheres to Islamic Sharia Law. It has been targeting trans women, including the recent detention of 12 women. They were released after agreeing to ‘live like men’.
Last year, two men in the early twenties were caned 82 times in Aceh after being convicted of homosexuality and sodomy.
‘It’s never been easy to run a gay product in Indonesia,’ Lin said.
‘Homosexuality has been deemed “deviant”… members of the LGBT community in Indonesia have faced increasing levels of persecution since 2016 and Google’s removal of Blued and the other 14 LGBT-related apps makes the situation even worse.
‘It’s a hard time for Indonesia LGBT community and we really need google’s support on this, instead of cracking us down.’
Blued has not yet been blocked in Apple’s app store. But social commentators in Indonesia have told Gay Star News that is an ‘elitist’ approach to censoring content.