American in Indonesia Faces Deportation for Saying Bali is “Queer Friendly”

An American woman and self-described digital nomad Kristen Gray looks on after being examined at Indonesian Immigration office in Denpasar
Kristen Gray looks on after being examined at the Indonesian Immigration office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, on January 19.
Antara Foto/Fikri Yusuf/Reuters

A queer American couple who has been living in Bali, Indonesia amid the pandemic is facing deportation on January 21 after one of the partners applauded the country as “queer friendly” on social media.

According to the country’s immigration officials, Kristen Gray, 28, wrote in a now-deleted Twitter thread that the country is accepting of LGBTQ people. In the post, she promoted an e-book called “Our Bali Life Is Yours” with her partner, Saundra Alexander. The New York Times reports that these posts encouraged others to move to the Island.

Within days of posting the thread, authorities arrested Gray for “spreading information that could unsettle the public,” according to the Times. In a statement, Bali’s immigration officials told the Times the country does not recognize gay marriages and therefore these posts could stir controversy. One of Gray’s tweets suggested ways of entering Indonesia during the pandemic despite a national travel ban. Officials are accusing Gray of “carrying out dangerous activities” that could harm the public.

Outside of Bali’s immigration detention center on January 19, Gray told reporters that she’s “not guilty.” Gray claims she’s being deported because she “put out a statement about LGBT.”

Last January, the couple moved out of the US to find an area with a lower cost of living. According to the Times, Gray has curated a budget-friendly life in Indonesia.

The couple’s lawyer, Erwin Siregar told the Times they have not broken any laws. He said they just wanted more people to come to the Indonesian island after the pandemic.

“They are good people,” Siregar said, according to the Times. “They can persuade tourists to come to Indonesia after the pandemic is over without a cent of payment. We should thank them, not deport them.”

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