A Black American woman has been targeted by the Indonesian government over a viral Twitter thread about her life in Bali.
According to BuzzFeed News, "digital nomad" Kristen Gray is facing deportation for allegedly misusing her visa and making several "unsettling" statements about the resort island. Indonesian officials reportedly summoned Gray after she took to Twitter to promote her $30 e-book, Our Bali Life Is Yours, in which she allegedly provides tips on how to move to Indonesia amid the pandemic. The series of since-deleted tweets explained how Gray and her girlfriend, Saundra, decided to move to Bali in December 2019 to "stack some bread and elevate our lifestyle." She claimed their original plan was to stay on the island for only six months, but chose to "wait it out" after the pandemic hit.
She went on to describe the financial benefits of the relocation, and described Bali as a "queer-friendly" island—a statement that immediately drew criticism online, as Indonesia's LGBT community has endured decades of legal challenges, discrimination, and harassment.
"It’s a guide breaking down how we did it and how you can do it too," Gray tweeted about her e-book. "We include direct links to our visa agents and how to go about getting Indonesia during COVID."
According to the Jakarta Globe, Indonesia has closed its borders last month due to increasing COVID-19 cases and the emergence of new, possibly more infectious strains. Jamaruli Manihuruk, the head of the Bali office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, said Gray may have violated Indonesia's laws by "spreading information that could unsettle the public"; this would include her "LGBT friendly" comments and her alleged attempts to help Westerners travel to Bali despite its restrictions on international travelers. There are also questions regarding the money she made off her e-book sales.
"The concerned foreign national is suspected to have done business by selling her e-book and putting up consultation fees on traveling to Bali," Manihuruk told Coconuts Bali, "which means she can be subject to sanctions according to the 2011 Immigration Law."
Gray spoke to reporters on Tuesday, claiming she was being targeted not because of her e-book, but because of her sexual orientation.
"I am not guilty, I have not overstayed my visa. I have not made money in Indonesian rupiah in Indonesia," she said. "I put out a statement about LGBT and I'm being deported because of LGBT."
Gray is reportedly being held at the Immigration Detention Center in Denpasar. Outlets report she will be flown back the United States once a flight becomes available.