Samsung phones are available all over the world—in fact the company is the planet’s largest maker of smartphones. But in South Korea, where Samsung is based, gay social apps are being blocked from the company’s online store.
This week BuzzFeed shared a memo from Samsung to Sean Howell, the CEO of Hornet, indicating his app was rejected in Korea back in 2013 because, “due to the local moral values or laws, content containing LGBT [subject matter] is not allowed.”
With Hornet’s removal, Samsung now offers no LGBT dating apps in its store, anywhere in the world—though users can still download them via Google Play.
Except for Jack’d, that is— the most popular gay dating app in South Korea. It was removed from Google Play in the country several years ago.
Jack’d still has more than 500,000 users in Korea, though—users who are likely hacking their phones to appear as if they’re in a different country.
Of course, all the well-known hookup apps are still readily available for Apple iOS users, but Apple has a much smaller market share in Korea than Android phones do.
Where’s the crackdown coming from? Homosexuality is not illegal in Korea, but the country’s Standards Commission has incredible discretion to limit content considered obscene or harmful to minors.
And LGBT material “is automatically identified as material harmful to youth,” says civil-rights lawyer Park Kyung-sin.
The battle isn’t just in cyberspace, either: Organizers of the Korea Queer Cultural Festival had to go to court to overturn a police ban on a Pride march held June 28.