by: Stefanie Gerdes
A Russian homestay network has launched a feature to find out how many gay people live in Russian cities.
But it’s far from an attempt to help LGBTI people find friendly and safe accommodation.
MyLinker, the Russian answer to AirBnB, added the GayLocator to help users ‘choose the city where the rate of homosexuality is at a minimum’.
They made the decision after AirBnB changed its terms and conditions.
In November 2016, the homestay network implemented a rule to say guests could not be refused based on their sexual orientation.
‘But what about the freedom of choice,’ MyLinker founder Rodin Kadyrov told Life.ru.
‘It’s fine to deny gay people if we’re talking about freedom of choice.’
He said everyone should have a choice what to do with their property, and they should be free to deny certain guests.
And the statistics are not necessarily nonsense.
When you search for a city, an algorithm calculates how often people in that city searched for ‘porn’ and ‘gay porn’.
The results are then projected onto the city’s entire population, and a new page – with a big, red danger! emblazoned below – returns a number.
For Sotchi, the GayLocator predicts 6,702 of the 400,000 inhabitants to be gay.
‘There are many gays there,’ the page reads, according to Queer.de.
‘In case of a peak in activities, we’ll help you fend off the gays.’
The reactions were mixed: activists either bragged about the numbers, while others created a petition.
Some homophobes didn’t like the feature, either, because they didn’t like the numbers.
But for Kadyrov, allowing users the freedom of choice is what matters.
‘You don’t want to accept homosexual people, but you also don’t want to be hungry,’ Kadyrov said.
‘What do to? Will you go and try to find a new resource, or will you stay and sacrifice your principles?’
Under Russia’s strict anti-gay laws, some might say the GayLocator could be seen as so-called ‘gay propaganda’.
‘Gay propaganda? I don’t think so,’ Kadyrov said.
‘We definitely didn’t have such a goal. Everyone decides for themselves whether they are gay or not (as unfortunate as it sounds), but we’re not [supporting] them.’