As countries around the world celebrate Pride Month, Apple’s App Store in China has removed 27 LGBTQ+ apps reports show. It is unknown whether the apps were removed in a preemptive manner or if Apple caved to the demands of the oppressive Chinese Government.
Protocol reported that
“the U.S.-based Fight for the Future, an advocacy group for digital rights, and China-based GreatFire, a nonprofit organization that tracks censorship in China, shows that only Saudi Arabia has more LGBTQ+ apps unavailable in their App Store. According to the two groups’ jointly-published report on Monday, the App Store enables government censorship of LGBTQ+ apps in 152 countries, in stark contrast to Apple’s pro-LGBTQ+ efforts in the U.S.”
Benjamin Ismail (he/him), GreatFire’s campaign and advocacy director and Apple Censorship project coordinator, told Protocol:
“It is our assumption that Apple’s position in different countries varies and that the company feels more comfortable to ignore/refuse/delay some governments’ requests than others, The few developers that talked to us told us that when they learned the app was not available, they didn’t try to discuss it with Apple, thinking it would not change anything. We know some assume Apple is just ‘complying with local laws’ even though they never refer to the law they are complying with,”
“Some developers told us they didn’t put their app in China, fearing it would cause trouble and possibly get the entire app in trouble, including in other countries.”
Fight for the Future reported “that If a government demands an app’s removal from the App Store and if Apple complies, it is near impossible to install an app on an iPhone through another mechanism. If Apple, like Google’s Android, allowed installations from the open web, there would be no conflict with local law, but Apple isn’t doing this in order to protect its monopoly and the stream of free money it extorts from app developers.”
Utsav Gandhi (he/him), Campaigner and Researcher with Fight for the Future wants people to know that:
“This is a matter of life and death for many queer and trans people around the world, who often find community and safety through these apps. It’s unacceptable for Apple to continue this business practice, which is fundamentally incompatible with basic human rights and safety for LGBTQ+ people.”
It is reading stories like this, that I know how lucky I am to live in a country where something like this is not even on our radar. At all. Unfortunately this is not the case for members of the LGBTQ+ community in hundreds of countries as Fight for The Future released its findings:
- Saudi Arabia is the App Store with most LGBTQ+ related apps unavailable (28 apps) followed by China (27).
- 6 out of the top 10 App Stores with censored LGBTQ+ content are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Among the top 20 LGBTQ+ Apps (as identified in the U.S. App Store), 13 are unavailable in one or more countries, including the top 3: Grindr, Taimi and OkCupid. The majority of these most popular apps are unavailable in more than 20 countries.
- The least available LGBTQ+ apps, globally, are:
- weBelong – Find Your Community (unavailable in 144 App Stores)
- Hinge: Dating & Relationships (unavailable in 135 App Stores)
- Qutie – LGBT Dating (unavailable in 115 App Stores)
- Adam4Adam Gay Dating Chat A4A (unavailable in 80 App Stores)
- Trans – Transgender Dating (unavailable in 77 App Stores)
To read more about Apple’s App Store monopoly and demand that lawmakers further investigate its implications for access to content visit www.abolishtheappstore.org
Sources: Protocol, Fight for the Future