Grindr has suddenly been blocked to users in Lebanon, in a move that appears to be part of an anti-gay crackdown by the government.
In response to complaints about the app’s users unable to log in to their accounts using public networks, LGBTIQ rights group SMEX reached out to internet service providers to learn more about the ban.
A representative from Lebanon’s top mobile network provider, Touch, told SMEX that the ban is in compliance with an order from the Ministry of Telecom, but the reasons behind disallowing subscribers to access the app were not provided.
Grindr can still be accessed in the country using private networks, but organisers of Beirut Pride have publicly condemned the ban.
In a statement on Facebook, Beirut Pride expressed their worry and disappointment at the state-imposed censorship.
The group said Grindr users will now just have limited access to the app, pushing them to only be able to access their accounts in private networks such as their workplaces or homes.
“For some people, the application doesn’t log in; for others, profiles and conversations do not load, unless accessed from a private Wifi network,” the group said.
“This ban is a new attack on the freedoms in Lebanon, and intends to shrink national cyber access on the grounds of our personal and intimate relationships.
“Banning an application on the public, shared network insinuates that the common space refuses to be a space for all.
“It confines people to the private network (home, cafés and work), thus pushing back Grindr, its users, and the representations of sexual orientation and gender identity back in the closet, behind closed doors.
“An approach of ‘exist but not too much’, ‘live your life away from us’, ‘be private about who you are and don’t impose yourself in the public sphere.”
The Lebanese government remains tight lipped about the issue.