An Instagram account that published comic strips depicting the struggles of gay Muslims in Indonesia has disappeared following a frenzy of outrage online in the world’s biggest Muslim nation.
The Ministry of Communications said the account under the username Alpatuni was pornographic, which violated the law on information and electronic transactions.
Instagram, however, said it had not removed the account. The company said there were many reasons an account may no longer be accessible, including the account holder deleting it, deactivating it or changing the username.
The comics depicted gay characters facing discrimination and abuse, which has become increasingly common in Indonesia since late 2015 when conservative politicians and religious leaders began a campaign of portraying LGBT people as a threat to the nation.
An account of the same name on Facebook, which owns Instagram, was also no longer accessible.
Instagram’s content guidelines, published in Indonesian, say the service is a mirror of the diversity of the community.
Human Rights Watch’s Indonesia researcher, Andreas Harsono, criticised the government’s demands that the account be blocked.
“That account describes mostly the problems of gay individuals in Indonesia. It’s no secret that many LGBT individuals are arrested, their houses raided, some are sentenced to prison terms,” he said.
“The Indonesian government does not help them in demanding the removal of that account.”
The ministry said it appreciated that members of the community reported the account, which “accelerated” its removal.
Some users in turn congratulated the ministry. On Twitter, Fahmi Alfansi Pane, a policy analyst in the Indonesian parliament, thanked officials for “acting decisively” to protect public morality but also told the Associated Press he had never seen the comic strips.