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US woman who tweeted about dream gay lifestyle in Bali to be deported

The Guardian - January 20, 2021

An American woman is being deported from Bali over suspected immigration violations after her tweets that celebrated the Indonesian resort island as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live went viral.

Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali in January last year and ended up staying through the coronavirus pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and Los Angeles, offers to advise on travel, and links to buy her e-book, began going viral in Indonesia on Sunday.

Many Indonesian social media users were furious, saying the graphic designer was showing off living and working in Bali without a proper visa, and encouraging travel during a pandemic.

Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the ministry of law and human rights, said Gray may have violated a number of immigration laws, including "spreading information that could unsettle the public".

"She stated that she could provide easy access to Bali through the recommended agency and offered the low living costs in Bali, that is comfortable and LGBTQ+ friendly," Manihuruk said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Her tweets referenced her e-book costing $30 and a follow-up consultation for $50, indicating she was working without a business visa. "She is suspected of carrying out business activities by selling e-books and put a rate for consulting [about] Bali tourism," Manihuruk said.

Gray, who is from Los Angeles, told reporters after immigration officials announced the deportation: "I am 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."

Gray and her partner, Saundra Michelle Alexander, are currently in immigration detention while waiting for a flight to the United States.

In her posts, Gray celebrated the difference between Bali and the US. "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 her tweets said.

Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreign arrivals since 1 January to control the spread of Covid-19, and public activities have been restricted on Java and Bali.

"The Bali regional office of the ministry of law and human rights urges foreign nationals to comply with the current Covid-19 pandemic to comply with health protocols and to follow right procedures regarding visa processing and while in Indonesia," Manihuruk said.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/20/us-woman-who-tweeted-about-dream-gay-lifestyle-in-bali-to-be-deporte