As people continue to fall victim to an anti-LGBT crackdown in Egypt, gay dating apps Grindr and Hornet have implemented features to help keep the community safe.
The apps are sending users in the region tips on how they can protect themselves from entrapment, after it was reported authorities were using fake profiles to identify LGBT+ people.
Last month, a group of men proudly waved the rainbow Pride flag at a Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo.
However, following the incident it has been reported that 70 people have been arrested and handed sentences ranging from six months to six years.
Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Egypt, but gay men are being charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.
What’s more, authorities in Egypt don’t deny the fact they are specifically targeting LGBT+ people, with state media and the religious establishment claiming that it’s a public duty to tackle the spread of homosexuality.
Both Grindr and Hornet are issuing safety warnings and tips in Arabic to users who are at risk of being targeted by these authorities.
“It will make people take more precautions … we know that the police are under pressure to arrest people and they are going about doing that through all the avenues that they have,” Jack Harrison-Quintana, a director at Grindr told Haaretz.
Tips that Grindr are issuing include letting close ones know where you are going before you meet someone, double checking if you have mutual friends with the other user, and attempting to meet in a virtual space so you can be certain that you are talking to another LGBT+ person and not an undercover official.
“We always send out messages like this to users who are in places where there is an elevated level of risk,” Harrison-Quintana added.
Hornet have also issued safety warnings to users in the region, and hopes that their message don’t “create fear” among the LGBT+ community in Egypt.
“Significant percentages of gay men in the Middle East find online as a safer way to connect,” Sean Howell, president of Hornet, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“We are being cautious. We have not received many reports from users that make us think that the security online is worse than before.”
Egypt is considered one of the worst places in the world to be homosexual, with a 2013 survey finding that 95% of Egyptians don’t think LGBT+ people should be accepted by society.