Tinder is rolling out a safety feature to protect its LGBTQ+ users in countries where same-sex relationships are illegal.
The Traveler Alert feature will alert LGBTQ+ users when they are using the dating app in one of almost 70 countries around the world that effectively decriminalise LGBTQ+ status.
Since last month, Tinder users can now select up to three terms to describe their orientation – straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, demisexual, pansexual, queer, or questioning.
The update means that LGBT+ users will no longer appear automatically when in regions where their safety might be at risk. The Traveler Alert will warn users about the risks they could face in that destination and ask if they want their profile to be visible or remain hidden.
If the user decides to go public, their gender identity and orientation will be removed from their profile for the time they’re in that location if they’ve already made this information public.
Raising awareness to protect LGBTQ+ users
When developing the feature, Tinder worked with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) to help establish which locations Traveler Alert would appear.
In March this year, the ILGA’s 2019 updated map showed that same-sex acts are illegal in 69 countries. All of these countries will be included in the Traveler Alert safety feature, except from Botswana, which recently decriminalised same-sex relationships. In nine of the 69 countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, consensual same-sex relationships can result in the death penalty.
The two organisations also collaborated to add new information to the site’s Safety Tips about travelling as an LGBTQ+ Tinder user.
The updated statement says:
“We recognize and believe in the importance of being inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations, but the reality is this: nowhere in the world is without potential risk, and some countries have specific laws that target LGBTQ+ people.
Check out the laws around you when you travel to a new place and research what types of legal protection, if any, are available to you based on sexual orientation. In the event that you’re in unsafe territory, we suggest toggling off “Show me on Tinder” which you can find under the settings page.
If you have added a sexual orientation to your profile and choose to be shown on Tinder, we will hide your sexual orientation from your profile until you leave that area.
It’s important to exercise extra caution if you choose to connect with new people in these countries – as some law enforcement have been known to use dating apps as tools for potential entrapment. Some countries have also recently introduced laws that criminalize communications between individuals on same-sex dating applications or websites and even aggravate penalties if that communication leads to sexual encounters.”
The Alert will roll out on iOS and Android over the next few days, and will also include users of the Tinder Passport feature, where people can connect and match with people anywhere in the world.