Lebanon’s Telecommunications Ministry has ordered the blocking of Grindr, saying it facilitates meetings between bisexual and gay men.

The ministry’s decision, obtained by The Associated Press, asked internet service providers to block the application and associated website, following a request from the public prosecutor.

There have been previous efforts to block Grindr in the country.

LGBTI people in Lebanon continue to be denied the freedom to exercise their rights. Lebanon’s penal code, which criminalises “sexual intercourse which contradicts the laws of nature”, has been used to prosecute LGBTI people.

Just over a year ago, Internal Security forces also banned a series of activities organised by LGBTI activists to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), citing security concerns. 

Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf, said the decision to ban Grindr in Lebanon was a “deeply regressive step” and a “blow for the human rights of the local LGBTI community”.

“As well as being a flagrant assault on the right to freedom of expression, this move will serve to entrench and legitimise homophobic views within the country,” she said.

“No-one should face discrimination or punishment for their sexual orientation. Instead of blocking apps used by the gay community, the Lebanese authorities should immediately revoke this ban and focus their efforts on ending their crackdown against LGBTI people.”

Amnesty International obtained confirmation from an official source at the Lebanese Telecommunications Ministry that it had indeed issued the decision.

In January 2019, access to the Grindr app was partially blocked on some Lebanese mobile data networks, apparently on the orders of the ministry.

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