Grindr-Press-iconPopular gay hook-up and dating app Grindr has considered threatening the Turkish government with legal action over their ban in the country earlier this month, taking the app’s 125,000 users offline.

The app was blocked by Istanbul’s Criminal Court of Peace on 11 September as a “protection measure”, according to Turkish LGBTI organisation KAOS GL.

Grindr is now working via its geo-targeted advocacy service “Grindr for Equality” with KAOS GL and online LGBTI advocacy group All Out to pressure the Turkish government into lifting the ban, with the company not ruling out legal avenues.

Founder and CEO of Grindr Joel Simkhai told the Independent newspaper they were considering various avenues to respond to the ban.

“Oppression starts with the strangling of free speech and just like the burning of books in the past, today it’s done by cutting off people’s access to technology,” Simkhai said.

“Freedom to communicate is a basic right and Grindr is exploring all options to resolve this matter including a legal appeal.”

LGBTI rights groups in Turkey criticised the ban as the latest event in an ongoing shift towards authoritarianism on the part of the current Turkish government, led by conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

KAOS GL’s Ömer Akpinar criticised the Prime Minister directly, calling out his treatment of the country’s LGBTI community.

“This is simply a dismissal of the LGBT society through official policies of denial and discriminative practices. The Grindr ban is just another example showing that the Turkish Prime Minister’s recurrent words “we do not intervene with anyone’s lifestyle” are not true,” Akpinar said.

Advocacy group All Out have set up an online petition calling on the Turkish government to lift the ban, also linking it to the government’s ongoing suppression of social freedoms.

“We have to send a message that we won’t stand for Turkey’s censorship or discrimination against the gay community,” the group said.

“This won’t stop with Grindr—it’s just one part of the Turkish government’s crackdown against freedom of speech across the entire country.”

The country’s LGBTI community has been heavily involved in Turkey’s recent civil unrest. A transgender pride march in Istanbul became a focal point for the mass protests that erupted in the country throughout May and June.

A new draft constitution mentions LGBTI rights in a move that would make possible European Union membership easier for Turkey, but advocacy groups are sceptical the mentions would make a substantive impact if they are implemented at all.

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