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China’s Grindr ban and what it means for the LGBTQ+ community

It seems that China took another step towards restricting LGBTQ+ freedom of speech. The Grindr ban is just one of many similar moves the country has made in recent years.

Paulius Ilevičius

Paulius Ilevičius

China’s Grindr ban and what it means for the LGBTQ+ community

What happened?

In the face of the upcoming Olympic games, the queer dating app Grindr suddenly disappeared from all app stores in China. The disappearance is part of the Chinese government's attempt to eliminate all illegal and sensitive content during the Lunar New Year holiday and the Olympics.

The app was removed from such major online stores as Apple, Android, Qimai, and Google Play Store. However, the local equivalent, Blued, remained available.

It is also worth noting that at one point, Chinese tech company Kunlun Tech Co Ltd controlled 60% of Grindr's shares. However, the app’s developers later had to find other investors because the US identified Kunlun's presence as a national security risk.

Officially, the campaign to remove content is supposed to create a civilized, festive, and healthy online atmosphere during the Lunar New Year. But the ban is in line with China's other discriminatory policies against the LGTBQ+ community.

China's complicated relationship with the LGBTQ+ community

China has never been among the most tolerant countries and has always taken a “no approval; no disapproval; no promotion” approach. However, the country's view of the queer community has gotten worse over the last few years. The cancellation of Shanghai Pride is a possible consequence of its decreasing tolerance.

Just half a year ago, Shanghai University asked its colleges for a list of queer students to research their state of mind and political stance. This action immediately alarmed activists and other concerned individuals. It was seen purely as a data-gathering exercise and grave privacy intrusion.

Last year China also shut down dozens of LGBT-related WeChat accounts. They were blocked or deleted without users’ prior notification. Officially, the accounts were taken down due to complaints or rules violations. In reality, however, it is most likely an attempt to clamp down on the country's LGBT community.

Can I still use Grindr in China?

Yes, you can still use Grindr in China, but because there are threats of discrimination, we advise taking extra security measures while using it:

  • Encrypt your traffic with a VPN so no one can see what you do online. A VPN will protect your privacy and make you safer;
  • Use common sense. Meet up with matches in public places for safety. Also, terminate communication immediately with people who are unreliable. And, of course, avoid clicking on any suspicious links or attachments;
  • Use strong passwords so that no one can break into your account.

Stay safe!

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Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius is a technology and art enthusiast who is always eager to explore the most up-to-date issues in cybersec and internet freedom. He is always in search for new and unexplored angles to share with his readers.