American Kristen Gray to be deported from Bali amid Twitter row

An American woman looks set to be deported from Bali after her Twitter thread promoting the island as a cheap and LGBT-friendly option for foreigners during the pandemic went viral.

Kristen Gray sparked backlash for her lack of cultural awareness following the tweets on her “elevated lifestyle”.

Indonesian authorities have since accused her of spreading information that could “unsettle” the public.

But Ms Gray says she is being targeted because she spoke out about being LGBT.

Even though the Balinese are mostly Hindu, Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation where its LGBT community has faced discrimination.

Ms Gray is being held at an immigration detention facility and will be deported as soon as a flight is available, Reuters news agency reports.

The Los Angeles native moved to the Indonesian island with her girlfriend a year ago, describing it as “the perfect medicine”.

In a Twitter thread, she raved about Bali being LGBT-friendly, and enthused about the “lower cost of living” there.

In her tweets, Gray – a self-described “digital nomad” – had promoted the sale of her e-book titled ‘Our Bali Life Is Yours’, which is said to have links to visa agents and tips on how foreigners could get to the country. 

“It’s a guide breaking down how we did it and how you can do it too,” said one of the now-deleted tweets.

Gray had added: “The island has been amazing because of our elevated lifestyle at a much lower cost of living. I was paying US$1,300 for my LA studio. Now I have a treehouse for US$400.”

Presentational grey line

The tweets, which initially caused a backlash online, soon caught the attention of immigration officials. Authorities now say she may have violated a number of immigration laws, including spreading information that could “unsettle” the public – such as the idea that Bali was queer friendly, and that foreigners could easily get past borders amid the pandemic.

She is also accused of working without a business visa. 

Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreign arrivals since 1 January to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 

In response to the deportation announcement, Gray told reporters that she is “not guilty”. 

“I have not overstayed my visa. I am not making money in Indonesian rupiah. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am deported because I am LGBT.”

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