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Gay bars and social clubs either don't exist or operate covertly in such places, which makes dating apps a tempting method for making contacts."The lure of being with other people like yourself — it's something people have a deep desire for, even when there are incredible risks," said Andre Banks, executive director of the international gay-rights group All Out.For location-based dating apps such as Grindr, the security challenges are especially acute because of the very feature that makes them popular.This is another example of how vulnerable tourists are to arrest and detention in Dubai and at how drawn out and disorganised legal proceedings are.” The organisation noted that most tourists who consume alcohol at licensed venues in Dubai are not aware that they can still be arrested for having alcohol in their system.Homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah and Sharjah.Dubai is a popular destination for many South Africans but a recent case involving a British tourist highlights the dangers of the country’s criminalisation of LGBT people.
In one chilling case earlier this year in Pakistan, police arrested a paramedic on suspicion of killing three men he had met via the gay social network Manjam, which is based in London but has many users in Asia and the Middle East.
After complaints mounted, Grindr announced steps this month to reduce the risks for users in countries with a record of anti-gay violence — including Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Liberia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
And during the past week, Grindr posted a warning to its users in Egypt that police — as part of an ongoing crackdown on gays — "may be posing as LGBT to entrap you." The warning urged users to be careful when arranging meetings with strangers.
Grindr's CEO, Joel Simkhai, says his Los Angeles-based company strives to maximize security and privacy for all its users, yet he cautions that governments hostile to gays can muster powerful surveillance resources.
Hossein Alizadeh, the commission's program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, said he has tracked two main categories of cases in the region — some in which blackmailers connect with gay men and then threaten to expose them, others in which cyber police and morality police use dating apps and chatroom sites to entrap and arrest gay men.
Some of them had got a phone call asking to meet, from someone they'd talked to before on Whats App, and that guy turned out to be police.""Even if you are on Grindr or Manjam, in most countries that's not a crime — but sodomy is," Alizadeh said. If you have a good lawyer, you can argue, 'How do you prove I'm gay?