The Mercury News

Woman who calls Bali ‘queer friendly’ to be deported

- By The New York Times

BANGKOK >> An American woman who has been living in Bali during the pandemic is expected to be deported Thursday after she praised the Indonesian island as “queer friendly” and offered to help foreigners enter the country despite its coronaviru­s travel ban.

Indonesian immigratio­n officials detained Kristen Gray, 28, overnight Tuesday and said she was being deported for “spreading informatio­n that could unsettle the public.” They also accused her of “carrying out dangerous activities” and endangerin­g public order by not obeying rules and laws.

“I am not guilty,” she told reporters outside the immigratio­n detention center Tuesday. “I put out a statement about LGBT, and I am being deported because of LGBT.”

Her arrest came three days after she posted a thread on Twitter extolling the ease of her low-cost life in Bali and its tolerant community and promoting an e-book she wrote with her partner, Saundra Alexander, called “Our Bali Life Is Yours.” The couple also offered tutorials for people wanting to move to the island. Alexander, 30, will also be deported Thursday, according to their attorney, Erwin Siregar.

Siregar said the deportatio­ns were undeserved and that the couple had not broken any laws.

Bali, which is predominan­tly Hindu, unlike the rest of majority Muslim Indonesia, is dependent on tourism and has long cultivated a reputation for tolerance in a country that is increasing­ly conservati­ve.

In her lengthy Twitter thread, Gray, who is Black, praised Bali as a place welcoming of Black people. She also boasted about living an elegant lifestyle on a shoestring budget, comments that set off a firestorm of criticism among Indonesian­s on social media. Some complained that foreign tourists like Gray had helped drive up prices on the island.

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