A K-pop event at a mall in Indonesia came to an abrupt end on Sunday (14 October) after same-sex pairs took part in a ‘Pocky challenge’ on stage.
For the uninitiated, this involves two people chewing either end of a Korean biscuit stick (often covered in chocolate) until one person drops it or backs away and forfeits the game.
If they chew until their lips meet and wind up kissing, everyone wins.
In conservative Indonesia, where the LGBTI community is facing an unprecedented backlash, the competition induced moral panic.
Photos and videos of the light-hearted challenge at the Little Korea in Central Java’s Magelang Town Square mall event quickly went viral. Then, according to one Facebook users, police shut down the event.
Police questioned 13 witnesses, including event organizers, but made no arrests, according to local media.
The competition did not contravene Indonesia’s draconian pornography laws, according to Coconuts Indonesia, because there was no touching of lips.
Although homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the country’s pornography laws are often used to repress the minority.
Police later claimed the event was shut down because organizers did not have the correct paperwork.
Campaign of hate
Since the end of 2015, politicians and government officials in Indonesia have been whipping up the public into an anti-LGBT fury.
Police and Islamist vigilantes have raided gay clubs, hair salons, private homes, and community events.
This atmosphere of fear is having a devastating impact on the community’s mental and physical health.
HIV outreach workers are struggling to connect with community members to offer advice about prevention and treatment of the disease.