American Tourist Deported From Bali Poses Concerns Towards Local LGBT Communities

American tourist Kristen Gray, 28, was deported from Bali due to suspicions of “having intentionally disseminated unsettling information.” In one of her now deleted tweets, she had called Bali “queer friendly.”

Kristen Gray (2nd left) along with her partner Saundra Alecander (centre) were deported from Bali due to suspicions of “having intentionally disseminated unsettling information”. The tweets on her account are no longer public. Credit: www.bangkokpost.com

American tourist Kristen Gray, 28, was deported from Bali due to suspicions of “having intentionally disseminated unsettling information.” In one of her now deleted tweets, she had called Bali “queer friendly.”

Gray and her partner Saundra Alecander, 30, were deported from Bali on January 20, 2021. They boarded a flight to Jakarta from Bali on Wednesday evening. The following day, the couple flew to Los Angeles with a stopover in Tokyo.

Prior to the deportation, Gray had released a series of tweets that explains her move from Los Angeles to Bali. She had shared her life as a digital nomad and was enjoying “an elevated lifestyle at a much lower cost of living.”

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In addition, she promoted a self-written e-book in which she shares how to get into Bali despite COVID-19 travel bans. As of recently, Indonesian had implemented regulations that strictly disallow foreigners from getting into the country to stop the spreading of the virus.

Local authorities highlighted Gray’s “queer-friendly” tweet during her deportation process. Credit: www.theguardian.com

Gray’s tweets, which are no longer available to the public, stirred up a heated controversy over social media. Critics pointed out that Gray did not acknowledge her privilege of being a foreigner in Bali and the economic impact they left on residents.

Her tweet calling Bali “queer-friendly” sparked a bigger controversy. Same-sex relationships are relatively frowned upon in Indonesia. Members of local LGBT communities experience limited rights due to their sexual orientation.

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However, LGBT foreigners are given a different treatment because of their privilege as tourists.

“The people in the tourism business will accept them whatever their sexuality is, they will be served well,” said Arya, a program manager at Gaya Dewata Foundation.

Amongst all tweets, Gray’s “queer-friendly” statement was highlighted by local authorities during her deportation process.

Residents fear there will be an imminent crackdown on local LGBT communities. LGBT Indonesians worry that this incident may prompt even more discrimination within the general public.

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Laras is a freelance writer based in Kendal, Indonesia. Since 2017, she has written for several online publications and delved in other creative pursuits. Some of her pastimes include skateboarding, cafe-hopping, and indulging in Netflix and chill sessions.