Turkey: Court bans access to gay dating app Grindr as a ‘protection measure’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A Criminal Court in Turkey has issued a countrywide “protection measure” which blocks access to the popular gay dating app Grindr.

The Turkish LGBT association KAOS GL reports both the app and its website are now inaccessible inside Turkey.

According to an online message displayed when attempting to access Grindr inside the country, the block has been ordered by the 14th Criminal Court of Istanbul as a as a “protection measure.”

Instead of Grindr, a user trying to access the database receives a message stating: “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)”.

Hayriye Kara, a lawyer for KAOS GL, told The Huffington Post: “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.”

Ömer Akpınar, a Turkish gay rights activist, added: “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.

“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. This is part of a larger trend of blocking the freedom of information in the wake of the Gezi Park demonstrations.

“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.”

In March it was found that Grindr is used by 6 million users who spend an hour and a half daily on average using the app.

The 4-year-old app also found that 71% of respondents were comfortable sharing personal information – although 80% of millennials agreed that their generation shared too much.

Social media sites Grindr users use most often are Facebook (30%), Grindr (28%), Instagram (7%), and Twitter with 6%.

Back in February, an advert that appeared on Grindr, Gaydar and other dating sites and apps, which promoted misleading advice about HIV was taken down.

Last year the location-aware gay social app launched a new movement to raise awareness of gay, bi and trans issues around the world dubbed ‘Grindr for Equality’.

Read PinkNews.co.uk’s interview with Grindr founder Joel Simkhai here.