Using dating apps as a queer person can be dangerous, especially in countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. Now, Tinder is shifting from its recent acknowledgment of queer users to trying to protecting them. Tomorrow, the app will begin rolling out a safety feature designed to inform readers of potential risks of using dating apps for LGBTQ people in nearly 70 countries that have discriminatory laws.
Here's how it will work: if a queer user is in one of these countries, the alert will appear once they open Tinder to caution them about using the app while in that location. Tinder will also hide users with a queer orientation in their bio from matching in those countries by default, and users will be able to choose whether they remain hidden or make their profile public.
Being gay remains illegal in many countries, including 34 countries in Africa (despite a recent victory in Botswana, which recently decriminalized homosexuality). On the first day of the year, a transgender woman was killed in Malaysia. Tinder's new feature comes months after Lebanon banned Grindr, a ubiquitous gay dating app that had already been banned in several other countries, such as Turkey and Iran.
According to a Tinder spokesperson in an email to VICE, the app is focusing on providing safety for users regardless of orientation or gender. Tinder collaborated with ILGA World, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, to create this, sourcing data from ILGA World's latest State-Sponsored Homophobia report to determine where the feature should be deployed."We hope that this development will raise awareness amongst all Tinder users, and help protect people of diverse sexual orientations in the 69 countries around the world that currently still criminalise same-sex love," said André du Plessis, Executive Director at ILGA World in a press release.
In the past couple months, Tinder is ramping up its efforts to help LGBTQ users. In June, the company added a sexual orientation field to Tinder profiles. with nine orientation choices, including asexual and questioning, and users can choose up to three.
Tinder updates have historically been light, if not downright cutesy. Festival Mode, released in May, was aimed at connecting fellow festival-goers; Spring Break Mode, released in February, was meant to make it easier for users to get laid at their vacation destinations.