Apple Removes Hornet From iOS Store in Turkey

LGBTQ social network Hornet has been removed from Apple’s iOS Store in Turkey, after the country initially blocked the website just over a year ago.

The decision was made citing a law that was originally brought in to prevent cybercrime. However, the wording is reportedly very vague, which means it can be used to punish platforms for perceived ‘violations of morality’.

Turkey’s state government has the power to block services whenever it wants and courts aren’t allowed to intervene until after the fact.

Grindr has not been available in Turkey since 2013, which has led to Hornet becoming a very popular hub for the country’s LGBTQ population. According to company data, there were more than three million local users before it was taken down.

Many individuals have expressed concerns about becoming increasingly isolated from their community, in response to this latest censorship. Hornet can still be downloaded from the Google Play store, or by Apple owners who use a virtual private network.

No laws currently exist in Turkey that protects LGBTQ people from general discrimination and it does not officially recognise same-sex marriages. A survey from 2020 found that less than half of the populations thought they should have equal rights.

Pride celebrations were banned in Istanbul seven years ago with a view to “[protect] public peace and security, general health and morality”. However, it didn’t stop organised marches taking place this June.

Rubber bullets and tear gas were used to break up a parade, and 20 people were arrested for their participation.

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