A Turkish court has issued a ban on popular gay dating and hook-up app and website Grindr, demonstrating Turkey’s apparently conflicted stance on wider human rights issues.
For those not in the know, Grindr is a free iPhone app and website that allows gay, bisexual and “curious” men to connect online. Due to its use based on one’s location, using GPS, it has earned a reputation as a hook-up website, but its makers have always maintained that it is in fact just as useful to find friends and network.
No longer, though, for men in Turkey. It emerged last week that when attempting to access Grindr inside the country, users are confronted with a message saying:
“The decision no 2013/406 dated 26/08/2013, which is given about this website (grindr.com) within the context of protection measure, of ["Istanbul Anatolia 14th Criminal Court of Peace] has been implemented by [Telecommunications Communication Presidency].”
This block has reportedly been ordered by the 14th Criminal Court of Istanbul under the guise of it being a “protection measure.” Lawyers working within the country are unclear as to why this so-called “protection measure” has been ordered, though it is usually related to morality concerns.
Hayriye Kara, a lawyer for KAOS GL, is quoted as saying, “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. It is most likely related to ‘general morality,’ an ambiguous term used often against trans sex workers.”
Though this might earn a shrug from many as a trivial issue, it is being seen by gay rights activists in the country as just one more example of the Turkish administration imposing its morality through the courts despite the state’s supposed secular guarantees.
“Censoring Grindr is the last step in arbitrary limitations of freedom in Turkey. Any lifestyle or identity, which does not fit to the state’s ideology, is being deprived of their rights and freedoms,” Turkish gay rights activist Omer Akpinar is quoted as saying. “The Turkish government, through Ministry of Family and Social Policies, uses the discourse on the ‘traditional heterosexual family’ increasingly as a pretext to suppress LGBT rights.”
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