A court in the Republic of Turkey has banned the application Grindr on the grounds that it “features prostitution and obscenity.”
Marketed as a social network for men, with a focus on finding “a new date, buddy, or friend” in users’ own areas, Grindr was banned after an anonymous complaint was submitted to the Turkish court alleging that the app had used personal data without the user’s consent. The 14th Anatolia Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled in the complainant’s favor.
Officially, users are forbidden from posting “offensive or pornographic materials…in [their]Grindr Services personal profile page,” as well as using the app for “any commercial or non-private use, it being understood that the Grindr Services are for personal, non-commercial use only.”
In practice, it’s known as “the hookup app,” and according to The Verge, invites to sexy cam shows are far from unheard of—including invites from spambots—so it’s not hard to imagine how sex workers could conceivably be using Grindr to find potential clients.
Although the terms of service also prohibits sending “any information or material which a reasonable person could deem to be objectionable…obscene, indecent, pornographic…or otherwise offensive to any group or individual,” there is also nothing technological stopping users from sexually propositioning one another with text or pictures.
Though Turkey decriminalized same-sex sexual activity in 1858, the LGBT community has no legal protections, and faces considerable prejudice in the highly conservative country. The founder of Grindr, Joel Simkhai, plans to appeal the court decision with the backing of other LGBT activists.
WorldCrunch reported that Simkhai said Turkey “has the most users [of Grindr]in the Middle East. But now Turkey is also the only country which has banned Grindr with a court order.” He added that the app is used by “hundreds of thousands of men in the Middle East not only for meeting each other, but also for sharing information on a safe platform, and solidarity thanks to technology.”
A spokesman for Grindr told 429Magazine, “We at Grindr are disheartened by our continued ban in Turkey. Grindr is a valuable resource to facilitate connections in countries like Turkey where being a member of the LGBT community may be taboo. We are looking into a legal appeal and hope that the ban in Turkey will soon be lifted.”