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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 6 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 36
Turkey bans Grindr - Increasingly religious country cracks down on Gay hookup culture
Section One
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Turkey bans Grindr - Increasingly religious country cracks down on Gay hookup culture

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

If you were Gay in Istanbul and you wanted company, you might have cruised Gezi Park, at least until this past May, when the Turkish government decided to shut it down and build an Ottoman revival-style strip mall on the site.

Now, you couldn't even hook up on Grindr.

On September 12, the Turkish LGBT rights group KAOS GL announced that the global hookup app had been shut down by Turkish authorities. Gay men in that country who try to access the Grindr database get the following error message:

'The decision no 2013/406 dated 26/08/2013, which is given about this website (grindr.com) within the context of protection measure, of 'Istanbul Anadolu 14. Sulh CM' (Istanbul Anatolia 14th Criminal Court of Peace) has been implemented by 'Telekomünikasyon Iletisim Baskanligi' (Telecommunications Communication Presidency).'

A 'protection measure' is a government intervention into Turkish civil life, allegedly to avert some threat to public order.

COMPANY HEAD OBJECTS
In a statement, Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai said he was 'very upset' about the censorship and hoped the loss of service would only be 'temporary.'

'Grindr was created to help facilitate the connection between Gay men - especially in countries where the LGBT community is oppressed,' he said.

Hayriye Kara, a lawyer for KAOS GL, told The Huffington Post that 'The court decision is not published online and so we have no access to the procuration and therefore do not yet know what was the reason for the censorship. 'It is most likely related to 'general morality,' an ambiguous term used often against Trans sex workers.'

ISLAMIC INFLUENCE GROWING
Since November 2002, Turkey has been ruled by a conservative Islamist government that has systematically undermined secular Turkish political traditions.

According to Turkish Gay rights activist Ömer Akpinar, 'Censoring Grindr is the last step in arbitrary limitations of freedom in Turkey. Any lifestyle or identity which does not fit to the state's ideology is being deprived of their rights and freedoms.

'The Turkish government, through Ministry of Family and Social Policies, uses the discourse on the 'traditional heterosexual family' increasingly as a pretext to suppress LGBT rights. This is part of a larger trend of blocking the freedom of information in the wake of the Gezi Park demonstrations.

'In its justifications for suppressing freedom of information under the guise of 'responsible reporting,' the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to create a division between 'good and bad citizens,' while LGBT people have never been considered as equal citizens all through the history of Turkish Republic.'

The decision to close Gezi Park sparked anti-government riots in Istanbul, which soon spread to other Turkish cities. Rioting has now resumed since police killed 22-year-old Ahmed Atakan during a demonstration on September 9.

Gay sex has been legal in Turkey since 1858, but Turkish police often use laws against 'public exhibitionism' and 'offenses against public morality' to harass LGBT people. There are no legal protections against discrimination, and the Islamist government promotes a conservative approach to social issues that marginalizes LGBT Turks.

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