Former L.A. woman to be deported from Bali after tweeting that it’s LGBTQ-friendly
A former Los Angeles resident is being deported from Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated the Indonesian resort island as a low-cost, LGBTQ-friendly place for foreigners to live.
Graphic designer Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali in January 2020 and wound up staying through the COVID-19 pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and L.A. 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 $1,300 for my LA studio. Now I have a treehouse for $400,” one of Gray’s tweets said.
Her posts were considered to have “disseminated information disturbing to the public,” which is the basis for her deportation, said Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.
A statement from the office cited her descriptions of Bali as being comfortable for LGBTQ people and easily accessible during the pandemic. The statement also referenced tweets that promoted her e-book, which has links to agents who can 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 at a news conference Tuesday.
A small but determined cadre of filmmakers is fighting to tell diverse and progressive stories in an Indonesia that no longer wants to let them do so.
Homosexuality is largely frowned upon in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, and LGBTQ people can face social and legal discrimination.
Gray’s tweets also offered a $50 consultation about becoming an expatriate in Bali, Manihuruk said. “She is suspected of carrying out business activities by selling e-books and put a rate for consulting [about] Bali tourism,” 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,” Gray told reporters after Indonesian immigration officials announced her deportation. “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.”
An Indonesian court sentenced a California man to 9 1/3 years in prison on Monday after finding him guilty of selling cocaine and marijuana on Bali.
Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreigners from coming to the country since Jan. 1 to control the spread of COVID-19, and public activities have been restricted on Java and Bali islands.
“The Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights urges foreign nationals ... to comply with health protocols and to follow right procedures regarding visa-processing and while in Indonesia,” Manihuruk said.
Gray and her partner, Saundra Michelle Alexander, are currently in immigration detention while waiting for a flight to the United States.
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