Author: Eugene Riordan, Jr.
There’s a chance that you’re first-handedly familiar with the most famous gay phone app Grindr, but if not, you’ve probably heard of the networking app that lets queer men find each other nearby. For that reason it has gained a reputation for being used primarily for hooking up, which is most likely the reason why it has been recently banned overseas.
A court decision in Turkey has made it so that accessing Grindr within the country is impossible. Starting a few weeks ago, when trying to access the app, users will get this message:
“The decision no 2013/406 dated 26/08/2013, which is given about this website (grindr.com) within the context of protection measure, of ’İstanbul Anadolu 14. Sulh CM’ (İstanbul Anatolia 14th Criminal Court of Peace) has been implemented by ’Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı’ (Telecommunications Communication Presidency).”
While saying that it has been banned is one thing, explaining it is another. Hayriye Kara, the lawyer for KAOS GL, Turkey’s leading lgbt activist organization, agreed that the message and the decision are opaque and unknown to the public. “The court decision is not published online and so we have no access to the procuration and therefore do not yet know what was the reason for the censorship,” Kara reported to the Huffington Post. “It is most likely related to ’general morality,’ an ambiguous term used often against trans sex workers.”
It’s been confirmed that so far, other queer networking, dating, and hookup sites will still work, but many see the ban as a reflection of larger issues with the Turkish state. The ban is a challenge to the queer minority, reinforce a “traditional heterosexual family,” and show the power of the state in decisions nationwide, especially after the public demonstrations in Gezi Park this summer. The Media Coodrinator for KAOS GL, Ömer Akpınar, reiterated these sentiments. “In its justifications for suppressing freedom of information under the guise of ‘responsible reporting’ the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to create a division between ‘good and bad citizens’, while LGBT people has never been considered as equal citizens all through the history of Turkish Republic.”
These sentiments are true worldwide: countries scapegoating queer people to hide problems with the economy or other areas where the government feels is losing control or would rather not improve.
Because of the government impinging on the free speech of its queer citizens, Grindr and KAOS GL are partnering to get signatures on a petition to pressure the Turkish government to lift the ban. Grindr reported that of its 6 million users worldwide, 125,000 of them were active in Turkey before the ban, and it would like to get them talking again. The petition is written from the viewpoint of the European Union’s rulings, the union of which Turkey has been trying to join for over a decade.
You8 should sign the petition here if you see the issue as preventing Turks from exercising their freedom of speech, or even if you just believe in the freedom of sex. Government censorship isn’t going to go away anytime soon throughout the world, but standing up for human rights is important for everyone worldwide.
I mean, just imagine if Grindr were banned in the U.S. How would anyone meet anymore?