Duo deported over gay tweets

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 21 Jan 2021

An American graphic designer is being deported from the Indonesian resort island of Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated it as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live.

Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali last January and wound up staying through the pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and Los Angeles and links to buy her e-book, began going viral in Indonesia on Sunday.

"This island has been amazing because of our elevated lifestyle at much lower cost of living. I was paying US$1,300 for my LA studio. Now I have a treehouse for US$400,'' one of her posts on Twitter said.

Gray's posts were considered to have "disseminated information disturbing to the public," which was the basis for her deportation, said Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.

It cited her descriptions of Bali providing comfort for LGBT and being easily accessible during the pandemic. It also referenced tweets with links to her e-book, which had direct links to agents who could help foreigners move to the island.

"She stated that she could provide easy access to Bali through the recommended agency and offered the low living costs in Bali, that it is comfortable and LGBTQ-friendly,'' Manihuruk said.

Many Indonesian social media users were furious that she was showing off living and working in Bali without a proper business visa.

"I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my [tourist] visa. I am not making money in Indonesian rupiah. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am deported because of LGBT,'' Gray said after immigration officials announced the deportation.



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