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Grindr makes exit from China, sets new rules to protect queer athletes competing in Beijing

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Beijing [China], February 27 (ANI): As there is still a huge stigma surrounding the LGBTIQ community in China, a popular LGBTQ dating app, Grindr, which was taken off from the app stores of the country, has decided to tighten the privacy for the queer athletes competing in Beijing.

Chinese authorities continue to tighten controls on online expression in the country where the internet regulation policies are already tightened to purge the online behaviour of the people said a media report.

Recently, a famous social media app Grindr was found to be taken off from the app stores of the country.

Grindr is a popular LGBTQ dating app that became a world success after its launch in 2009. It was found that the App is no more available on the Apple App store in China and reportedly Apple didn’t pull the plug on Grindr but the owners of the app themselves citing extremity in complying with China’s Personal Information Protection Law, said the report.

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The app was also found unavailable on the Android App stores of Tencent and Huawei as the Google Play store is not available in the nation.

Grindr was initially owned by a Chinese company Kunlun Tech but was later sold to US investors in Los Angeles California in 2020.

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The removal of Grindr comes in the backdrop of China’s revised efforts to regulate online content in the wake of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022, said the report.

The Cyberspace Administration of China recently announced a month-long operation to clampdown on internet rumors, pornography and illegal content. The authorities said that this campaign aims to create an auspicious, healthy and civilized internet culture and atmosphere as China enters the Lunar New Year.

While homosexuality is not illegal in China, same-sex marriages have still not been accorded legal protection. As per a 2016 study by United Nations, only 5 per cent of Chinese citizens chose to ‘come out’Grindr is not the first app to see the exit door in China. In 2017, another LGBTIQ dating app Zank was shut down after authorities accused it of hosting pornographic content.

Jinping administration has shown quite an intolerance towards the LGBTIQ community. In July 2021, WeChat suspended many accounts that were posting about LGBTIQ topics. Another messaging app QQ banned the usage of the words “Gay” and “LGBTIQ” on its platform, the media report said.

International Companies in China grapple with the nation’s strict regulatory framework. Apple itself has removed hundreds of apps from its China stores to comply with the local rules and laws. In December 2020, Apple took down around 46,000 gaming apps that failed to secure an operating license in China.

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China imposes a strict code on content moderation and censorship and all are expected to comply with it. Anything that goes against the Communist Party’s ideology is not welcome in the country. Last year, authorities requested Apple to take down a Quran app, said the report.

There is still a huge stigma surrounding the LGBTIQ community in China. In the year 2016, Chinese censors notified that movies and shows shouldn’t show same-sex romance and should avoid plotlines featuring gay relationships.

The basic human rights available to the people of China are too narrow. While other civilized countries are paving their way forward, Beijing is adamant about asserting its unjustified rigid values.

The world is running into the internet age but the Chinese Government is still bent on its rigid ideology and beliefs, said the report.

Anyhow, Grindr has decided to tighten the privacy for the queer athletes competing in Beijing. While the Beijing Winter Olympics is taking place, Grindr is taking extra measures to protect the privacy of the athlete users that are competing in China. Grindr’s “explore” feature makes it easily accessible to all its users to view anyone’s profile in the world.

The app has disabled this “explore” feature for everyone currently in the Beijing Olympic Village to keep the athletes’ profiles and sexual orientation private giving them a cover against any discrimination, persecution and harassment, the report said.

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While the same feature has been disabled by Grindr in some countries that criminalize homosexuality, this is the first time this feature has been disabled for the Olympics.

Also, the fact that the event is taking place in China makes it noteworthy since the country has a complex environment when it comes to LGBTQ rights. China’s authoritarian regime makes the free expression of sexuality a myth, the report added. (ANI)

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