Grindr app dates could turn nightmarish if precautions are not taken: Queer community members

Miscreants seem to count on the fact that these are discreet meet-ups, and the victim would not approach the police if they were to go awry.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Jan 25, 2024 | 11:00 AMUpdatedJan 25, 2024 | 11:00 AM

Grindr app dates could turn nightmarish if precautions are not taken: Queer community members

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies) community — collectively and inclusively known as the LGBTQIA+ community — has claimed some real threats from the popular dating app Grindr.

They have said that around 15-25 percent of profiles on the app — which is targeted specifically at the LGBTQIA+ community — are by non-queer people who are in a way associated directly or indirectly with queer people who indulge in sextortion or extortion of money from gullible queer victims.

The members of the community said such profiles and the people behind them only attempt to extort money by assaulting their victims if they do not pay up according to their demands, but also sometimes even sexually assault the victims.

The miscreants seem to count on the fact that these are discreet relationships, and if were to go wrong or awry, the victim would not report it to the authorities, said a Grindr app user and a member of the community.

Also read: Bengaluru sees LGBTQ community ‘ride with pride’

Recent incident

The Bengaluru City Police have been on the lookout for four such persons who assaulted a 34-year-old same-sex lover after inviting him for a date in Tavarekere in Madiwala on 10 January.

The victim, a resident of NRI Layout in Ramamurthy Nagar, had reportedly been in touch with a gay companion on the app for quite some time.

He decided to meet his companion on 10 January and said that he was coming to Tavarekere near Madiwala, where they could meet around 1 am.

Soon after the person arrived at Tavarekere, he met with the person he had been in touch with. This individual invited him to his residence — Makana House, opposite SR Apartments on Venkateshwara College Road on Taverekere Main Road.

Not suspecting anything amiss, he went into this house, where three others were waiting inside a room.

Soon after a formal introduction, one of the three locked the house and started to threaten the man, demanding money from him.

When the victim said that he was not carrying any money, he was beaten black and blue both by hands and belts.

He somehow managed to escape from the house and admitted himself to a nearby private hospital named Venkateshwara Hospital.

He subsequently informed the Madiwala police about the incident, who immediately registered a case of criminal assault using dangerous weapons and intentional insult provoking a breach of peace.

Though the police claimed that they had identified the culprits using CCTV footage from the area, they have gone absconding after probably coming to know the victim had approached the police.

South First view: LGBTQIA+ marriage rights are not unnatural

Another attack

This is not a lone incident, say members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

In November 2023, Bengaluru’s Adugodi police registered a case of assault and extortion against a group of men who barged into the house of one Nadeem in Omshaktinagar in Adugodi while he was with another queer person.

Nadeem was a 29-year-old same-sex lover who is active on Grindr. He had come in contact with one Farhan on the app, whom he invited to his house on 22 November.

Farhan met Nadeem at the latter’s house and requested to use the washroom. When Farhan was in the washroom, a group of men knocked at the door, demanding that he open it or they would call the police.

Nadeem asked Farhan to stay inside the washroom and tried to be quiet so that the group would go away on not getting a response.

However, Farhan suddenly came out of the washroom, as if he was threatened, and opened the main door and ran away while the others barged into the house and started assaulting Nadeem.

The group of men then demanded that Nadeem pay ₹2,000 to them so that they would leave his house. He paid one of the culprits using a UPI transaction.

While one of the group members asked Nadeem what they were doing inside, the others took away Nadeem’s watch, a mobile phone worth ₹45,000, and a finger ring before fleeing the spot.

Nadeem walked into the Adugodi Police Station the next day and narrated his ordeal, after which his complaint was taken and an FIR registered.

Also read: Rainbow colours on Hyderabad streets as pride walk returns

A history of victimisation

A member of the queer community, Sauvik Acharjee, told South First that the community would be proud to have such people coming out and reporting incidents of violence to the law enforcement authorities.

“These types of incidents were very frequent and common until September 2018 and earlier,” said Acharjee, who works as a marketeer.

That was when the Supreme Court ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) would not be applicable to consensual homosexual relationships.

“It was a landmark judgement by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on 6 September, 2018. In almost all such cases earlier, the vulnerable queer community sections would never approach the police if a crime involving sexual violence or other related crimes such as extortion, sextortion, robberies or thefts occur to them,” he added.

“We have come across cases where even policemen turned extortionists when they get to know of queer community members becoming victims,” Acharjee told South First.

However, after consensual homosexual sex was decriminalised, members of the queer community have been a bit more vocal about such attacks.

Awareness has been created and there are support systems available for the community in case they fall victim to such crimes.

Also read: Hyderabad couple seeks recognition of same-sex marriage in India’s top court

The community is learning

Grindr app: Source Flickr

Grindr app. (Flickr)

Acharjee also explained that sextortion, extortion, or other such crimes in the garb of dating did not happen with people only on Grindr, but also on Tinder, Bumble, and other dating apps.

“At present, there are cybercriminals who create profiles on Grindr and target vulnerable men. They have made away with lakhs and lakhs of rupees on the pretext of giving a surprise to their gay companions by flying to India, and then claiming that they were stuck at the Delhi Airport. Later, a caller claiming to be from the Delhi Airport would call and demand money for the person’s release,” he explained.

There have been several ways cybercriminals and others used for such crimes, and a majority of app users — especially from the queer community — have sort of learnt to identify who is fake or fraudulent and who is genuine.

“While one gets to regularly chat, they would exchange not only WhatsApp numbers but also their other social media handles, with which they could verify if the profile account holder is genuine. Besides that, when someone is going to meet someone else for the first time, it is better to inform a group of friends about the queer person’s whereabouts and who they are going to meet — just in case one suspects there could be harm or danger involved,” cautioned Acharjee.

In a majority of cases, people on these apps would not be looking for a genuine relationship of sorts, but only for hookups, and users should also realise that fact, he added.