LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr has urged all users in Egypt to be vigilant following reports that police are using the app to conduct sting operations and arrest queer men.
Increasing numbers of LGBTQ+ are people being arrested, beaten and abused by police officers using dating apps and digital platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.
In response, Grindr has released a country-wide announcement, condemning the police action and warning LGBTQ+ users to tread carefully when using the app to meet others.
Police are also reportedly hacking into legitimate user profiles on the app to make arrests.
PinkNews has been told that more than 150 people have been arrested with Egyptian police using entrapment schemes.
“Our hearts are with our community in Egypt,” a spokesperson from Grindr told PinkNews.
“Grindr is working with groups on the ground to make sure our users have up-to-date information on how to stay safe, and we are pushing international organisations and governments to demand justice and safety for the Egyptian LGBTQ community.”
Reports from LGBTQ+ people in the country suggest that police are hiring informers to infiltrate other dating apps, including Tinder and Bumble, to “seduce” members of the community before arresting them.
‘I’m worried I’ll be slaughtered’
Darius (not their real name), an LGBTQ+ person from Port Said, told PinkNews they’ve stopped walking in the streets out of fear and are desperately looking for a way to escape the country.
“Me and my friends got a voice note that said 28 gay people were arrested by police and then forced to call their friends so they could get arrested too,” they explained.
“A couple of months ago, one of our friends was found dead. I’m not safe at all.”
According to Darius, police are taking people’s phones for “evidence” then calling the names in their contact lists to see if they are LGBTQ+.
They were also informed that their name was on a long list of people who were being tracked by the police.
“I don’t leave my house unless someone will take me with a car,” Darius adds.
“I’m really worried that if I leave the house, I’m going to get slaughtered like a chicken.”
Human Rights Watch said digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Grindr are not doing enough to protect LGBTQ+ people.
It also urged the authorities in Egypt to respect international and regional obligations to protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.
“Online abuses against LGBT people have offline consequences that reverberate throughout their lives and can be detrimental to their livelihood, mental health and safety,” Rasha Younes, a senior researcher for LGBT Rights at Human Rights Watch, said.
Younes added that while digital platforms have enabled LGBT people to express themselves and amplify their voices, they have also become tools for state-sponsored oppression.
by Joe Ali
Source – PinkNews