Life

Tinder’s new safety feature highlights the vital need to protect LGBTQ+ travellers abroad

Posted by
Christobel Hastings
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

There are nearly 70 countries around the world that still persecute LGBT+ individuals for who they love. Now, Tinder is taking steps to protect LGBTQ+ users from discrimination abroad with a new feature dedicated to safe travel. 

Even as more and more countries are making strides towards LGBTQ+ equality around the world, sadly, there are still a significant number of places that persecute people for their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) in fact, there are 69 U.N. member states where same-sex sexual activity is criminalised, and two countries where criminalisation is de facto. That means, of course, that LGBTQ+ travellers are also at risk for expressing same-sex attraction in those regions. 

Tinder is one company that is putting this difficult truth at the forefront of conversation, by taking steps to ensure the safety of their users when travelling abroad. This week, the dating app announced that it would be rolling out a new feature issuing LGBTQ+ users with an alert when they entered a country with discriminatory laws.

You may also like

“With acceptance for LGBTQ+ people falling, sharing our stories is more vital than ever”

In a blog post announcing the new feature, called Traveller Alert, Tinder highlighted that there are still nearly 70 countries across the world which persecute LGBTQ+ people for who they love. 

“It’s no secret that we believe everyone has the right to live how they want to live and love who they want to love. ‘And while there are still efforts to protect our freedoms from LGBTQ discrimination, it’s important to remember that there are still nearly 70 countries around the world that have laws effectively criminalising LGBTQ status.

The post goes on to detail that when LGBTQ+ users open the app in a country hostile towards homosexuality, a notification will appear warning them of the sexual orientation laws in their current location, and the risks they may face for expressing it openly.

Public perceptions of LGBTQ+ people had been slowly improving in Poland.

“Starting today, we’re rolling out a Traveller Alert that will appear when Tinder is opened in one of these locations to ensure that our users are aware of the potential dangers the LGBTQ community faces - so that they can take extra caution and do not unknowingly place themselves in danger for simply being themselves,” the post continues.

LGBTQ+ users will then have the option to keep their Tinder profile hidden or make it public. What the app won’t do, however, is allow LGBTQ+ users to automatically appear on Tinder when they open the app in these areas. Even if they do choose to make their profile visible to others, their sexual orientation or gender identity won’t be public information until they’ve left the country.

“Based on your geographical area, it appears you’re in a place where the LGBTQ community may be penalised,” Tinder’s traveller alert reads. “We want you to have fun, but your safety is our #1 priority. Please proceed with caution and take extra care when making new matches and meeting with people you do not know.”

You may also like

“Why do people still need to come out in 2019?”

What might be a temporary limitation on meeting potential matches is grounded in a very real threat of persecution from law enforcement agency workers going undercover on the app, laws criminalising same-sex sexual activity, and other Tinder users hostile to LGBTQ+ individuals, as ILGA, who provided Tinder with data to create the new feature, highlighted in a statement.

“We work hard to change practices, laws and attitudes that put LGBTQ people at risk - including the use of dating apps to target our community - but in the meantime, the safety of our communities also depends on supporting their digital safety,” explained André du Plessis, executive director of ILGA World.

Tinder’s new feature calls attention to the pressing need for other digital platforms to prioritise the safety of LGBTQ+ users. Homophobia might be a longstanding social issue, but even as society slowly becomes more progressive with equal marriage and positive representation, it doesn’t mean we can’t step up and put measures in place to protect the LGBTQ+ community from harm. Hopefully others will quickly follow suit and show their commitment to user safety. 

Image: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.

Recommended by Christobel Hastings

Life

Northern Ireland’s ban on abortion and same-sex marriage has officially been lifted

It’s a momentous day for women and LGBTQ+ people in Northern Ireland. Here’s what you need to know.

Posted by
Moya Crockett
Published
Long Reads

“With acceptance for LGBTQ+ people falling, sharing our stories is more vital than ever”

Public acceptance has plateaued for the first time in 30 years, but it doesn't have to stay that way.

Posted by
Christobel Hastings
Published
Life

“How the USWNT’s queer players led the charge for social justice”

Equal pay, police brutality, LGBT+ rights: nothing is off limits for the USWNT.

Posted by
Christobel Hastings
Published
Long Reads

“I’m a Muslim woman who married two queer strangers. This is our story”

It’s time for allyship – not just in whispered conversations, but in big, loud, obvious actions that let your people know you’re standing for other people.

Posted by
Salma El-Wardany
Published
Opinion

“Why do people still need to come out in 2019?”

For LGBT individuals, coming out definitely isn't a one-off event.

Posted by
Christobel Hastings
Published