Emojis are seen in this screengrab from an iPhone.
Emojis are seen in this screengrab from an iPhone.

The Indonesian government wants instant messaging apps to remove all same-sex emojis or be banned from the country.

The emojis in question are found on messaging apps like LINE, Whatsapp, Facebook, Tinder and smartphones and show members of the same sex holding hands.

"Such contents are not allowed in Indonesia based on our cultural law and the religious norms and the operators must respect that," said a spokesman for the Communication and Information Ministry in an interview with the French news agency, adding that the emojis could appeal to children.

"Those things might be considered normal in some Western countries, while in Indonesia it's practically impossible," he said.

AFP reported that LINE Indonesia already removed the emojis.

"LINE regrets the incidents of some stickers which are considered sensitive by many people," the messaging app said in a statement.

According to Quartz, LINE, which is a Japanese and Korean company, has over 600 million users worldwide with at least 30 million in Indonesia.

Homosexuality is not illegal in the Muslim majority country, but it has been a controversial issue recently.

An LGBT group was banned from holding meetings at the University of Indonesia in January, and last year, the province of Aceh, which practices sharia law, implemented caning for those caught having gay sex.

An LGBT activist who goes by the name Hartoyo told AFP the emoji ban was another case of the government cracking down on the LGBT community.