6th September 2018 was a historic day in many ways. People will remember it for the 5-member bench of the Supreme Court decriminalizing Section 377, thereby ruling that consensual gay sex is no longer a crime. But it also resulted in a tectonic shift in how the LGBTQ community was perceived in India. For ages, they had to live in the shadows, hide their sexual orientation, lie about their thoughts and opinions and tolerate them being poorly represented in movies and TV shows.
But all that changed with the unanimous decision of the highest court of the country deciding to strike down 377. Suddenly you could see people coming out without the fear of legislation. Advertisements and movies celebrating the decision were trending online. Times of India even decided to dedicate a classified space in the newspapers, reserved solely for the LGBTQ community.
However, with such a positive reception to the ruling, came its own challenges. How do you incorporate a community into the society smoothly that had been marginalized for so long? How could you make them feel normal, when for the longest time you didn't even recognize their existence?
So everyone got to work. Brands tried to be more inclusive. People more accepting. Members of the community more confident. Slowly and steadily, everyone strived towards a better tomorrow.
Take the case of Tinder for example. The dating app realised that the ruling directly affects it, and got around to making changes in its policies, interface and features to welcome the LGBTQ community with open arms.
Recently it launched its latest safety update, dubbed "Traveller Alert". The feature aims to protect those belonging to the LGBTQ community from the risk of using the app in almost 70 different countries, where homosexuality remains criminalized. The feature, available for both Android and IOS users will warn people when they enter a country that could criminalize them for their sexual orientation. In addition to this, users would also have the choice to either remain hidden while in that location or opt to make their profile public to connect with new people.
India has always been at the forefront of Tinder's operations, with the US based company choosing to set its first international office in New Delhi. Not only that, the company has made a conscious effort to make itself gender inclusive after the Supreme Court verdict. Only last year, the company partnered with the LGBTQ organization Humsafar Trust and gay rights activist Parmesh Sahani to provide a total 23 gender identity options. The options were tailored to the Indian context, with the internationally available 37 gender options cut down to 23 to align to the Indian subcontinent's culture.
Not only this, in June this year it started allowing its users to add more information about their sexual orientation on their profile and also provided an option to display it publicly. The feature was launched to aid LGBTQ matching.
With all these steps, Tinder is aiming to go out of its way to ensure gender inclusivity in its app. With each subsequent initiative, it successfully reinstates its core belief that "Everyone Is Welcome"