LGBTQ+: Activists are accusing Apple of removing LGBTQ+ apps from the App Store and not acting against government censorship. In a report published last Monday (14), Fight for the Future, a non-profit advocacy group, and GreatFire, which monitors blockades in China, highlighted 1,377 cases in 152 countries. In all, 50 apps aimed at this audience, including the most popular ones, are unavailable in one or more stores.
“Most of the App Stores where the highest number of apps are blocked coincide with countries that are already lower on the list of human rights for the queer community”, highlights the document, citing Niger and South Korea, where there was the legalization of sexual orientation, but with high levels of restrictions.
Benjamin Ismail, campaign and advocacy director for GreatFire, told the Protocol that while China is known for widespread censorship, it is surprising that the country bans more LGBTQ+ apps from the App Store than others that criminalize homosexuality. There, 27 cases were found, while Malaysia registered only seven. Saudi Arabia leads with 28 app bans.
“We assume that Apple’s position varies in different countries and that the company feels more comfortable in ignoring/refusing/delaying some requests from certain governments compared to others,” he says. Of the 10 most censored App Stores, six are located in sub-Saharan Africa.
What does Apple say?
Among the less widespread apps are weBelong – Find Your Community (unavailable in 144 App Stores); Hinge: Dating & Relationships (135); Qutie – LGBT Dating (115); Adam4Adam Gay Dating Chat A4A (80); and Trans – Transgender Dating (77).
In its defense, Apple claims there are inconsistencies in the survey and that the company has not removed the 27 apps mentioned in China. In addition, of the 64 listed, only four were sanctioned for legal reasons – and developers generally control the availability of their solutions.
In some cases, adds the company from Apple, those responsible choose to remove their apps from stores to prevent problems with the local justice or protect their users. Furthermore, Grindr and Scruff, both LGBTQ+, seem to be around the world, indicates the 9to5Mac.
Finally, some publishers stopped complaining to big tech when they found their apps “crashed” because they felt the discussion would not work, explains Ismail, who nevertheless acknowledges: “Others told us they didn’t put their apps in China for fear it would cause problems (and possibly put entire apps in trouble, even in more countries).”