The gay dating app Grindr is no longer available on Apple's app store in China, with officials from Grindr saying they removed it voluntarily in anticipation of additional regulations as a new law is implemented.
"Like many other US companies, we've chosen to remove our app from the app store in China due to the potential increased burden from China's recently implemented Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL). We may revisit this in the future," Grindr spokesman Patrick Lenihan told The Advocate. Google Play, the app store for Android platforms, is not available in China, Lenihan added.
There was speculation earlier that Grindr was the victim of a government crackdown on LGBTQ+ content ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, scheduled to begin Friday.
The PIPL, which went into effect November 1, "limits personal information stored in apps and requires data transferred between China and other regions to be approved by the Chinese government," according to the Bloomberg news service, which was one of the first to report the app's removal from Apple, which took place last week. Not all provisions of the law were implemented immediately, but tech companies and legal experts have said they foresee problems with compliance.
China-based competitors, such as Blued, remain available. Grindr is based in the U.S., having been sold to an American company by its Chinese owner in 2020.
There are some fears about further regulation of LGBTQ+ content by China. The nation’s Cyberspace Administration last week announced that it was stepping up efforts against content that it considers pornographic or otherwise unacceptable, Bloomberg notes.
China decriminalized homosexuality 25 years ago, and many of its major cities have thriving LGBTQ+ scenes, but the country is still an unfriendly place for LGBTQ+ people in many ways. The government announced last September that it was banning portrayals of “sissy men” from television programs and “gay love” from video games. The National Radio and TV Administration told broadcasters that they must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics.”
Then in November, LGBT Rights Advocacy China suspended its operations indefinitely and closed its accounts on social media platforms. It’s not clear if government action led to the shutdown, but it had taken action against numerous organizations and websites. Also, in July, moderators at the social media site WeChat removed several LGBTQ+ accounts run by university students and groups.