The popular dating app Tinder will now provide warnings to users in countries where same-sex relationships remain illegal or where their safety may be threatened, using data tracked by a global LGBTQ organization.
Although great strides have been made in legal protections for same-sex couples, not every country has laws friendly to LGBTQ people—and some are outright hostile. Not knowing which countries are which could put people at risk when simply looking to go on a date.
Dozens of countries have some type of anti-LGBTQ law on the books that could threaten a person’s safety or freedom. For years, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) has been tracking sexual orientation laws around the world in its annual State-Sponsored Homophobia report. The 2019 edition reports that nearly 70 countries criminalize consensual same-sex activity in some way.
Now ILGA is teaming with one of the most popular dating services in the world, Tinder, to keep people safe. The company is using data from the report to create traveler alerts: In countries where same-sex activity is outlawed, LGBTQ users will no longer appear in the app unless they choose to make their profile public.
“If a user chooses to be shown on Tinder—and has added sexual orientation or gender identity to their profile—it will not be displayed until they leave that area,” the company said in announcing the new feature this week. Tinder also added a series of user safety tips to the app.
“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,” ILGA Executive Director André du Plessis said in comments to TechCrunch.
Tinder CEO Elie Seidman told the outlet he was distressed that such a feature is needed. “It is unthinkable that, in 2019, there are still countries with legislation in place that deprives people of this basic right,” he said, adding that “everyone should be able to love who they want to love.”
The safety feature is one of a series of pro-LGBTQ initiatives by Tinder in recent months. In June, the company worked with GLAAD on new ways to present sexual orientation. Tinder also spoke out in favor of the Equality Act, legislation pending in the U.S. Senate that would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.