report has delved into the censorship of LGBT apps in South Korea, the home base of the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer. That’s Samsung, of course, not Apple.
In 2013 Samsung did not allow gay hookup app Hornet to be listed on its own app store due to “local moral values or laws” prohibiting LGBT material in some countries. A spokesperson for the brand clarified that policies have been updated and are now based on “local laws and customs” instead of the more problematic “local moral values or laws”.
A few years ago, Google Play – where most Android users get their apps – delisted Jack’d, the most popular gay dating app in South Korea. That hasn’t prevented the LGBT community from bypassing regional settings via a VPN; seemingly unaware of the deletion from the South Korea store, lead account manager for Asia, Noah Staum, revealed that Jack’d has over 500,000 users in the country.
Although there are no laws specifically prohibiting LGBT content, Park Kyung-sin, a free speech lawyer who was previously on South Korea’s censorship board, the Korean Communication Standards Commission, said, “The big problem with government censorship or private censorship is that LGBT material is automatically identified as material harmful to youth.”
The extensive LGBT censorship in South Korea isn’t limited to apps. The recent Pride march, an event that has been held annually for 16 years, was initially banned by authorities. LGBT activists fought the ban in court, and won.