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Chinese Lesbian Dating App “Rela” Disappears, Sparking Fears of Discrimination regarding Same-Sex Marriages

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Screen grab of China's Rela dating site app. RFA
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May 31, 2017: China appears to have shuttered the lesbian app Rela, prompting some to wonder if the move is a part of state censorship of LBGT rights following a ruling in Taiwan earlier this paving the way for same-sex marriages.

The company said in a brief statement on its official account on the social media platform Sina Weibo that it had temporarily suspended the app for “important adjustments to the service.”

The app is no longer available on the iOS or Android app stores.

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Weibo users hit back at the app’s disappearance, although many said they believed it would make a comeback.

“Rela was the best app I have ever used,” user @ataimi commented. “I will wait for it for as long as the company doesn’t close down.”

“The reason it has been shut down isn’t necessarily because it was gay,” wrote @yueguan_Sywwwww, while @jiujilanger added: “I have no words.”

“I was just wondering today why I couldn’t sign on,” wrote @maoyihelianwu, while @Zeen1123 added, in a reference to the disapproval of lesbians by straight men in China.

“Homosexuality isn’t illegal, so I don’t know why they’ve shut Rela down, unless it’s a manifestation of straight-male cancer.”

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And @chalegedawan added: “One day, love and equality will triumph over discrimination and oppression, as long as we keep speaking out.”

Social pressure

Homosexuality was officially regarded as a mental illness in China until 2011, and LGBT people face huge social pressure to marry and have children.

Last month, China’s Cyberspace Administration shuttered gay dating app Zank, saying it had broadcast “pornographic content.”

A thorough investigation found that the apps failed to take responsibility for providing safe content, official media reported.

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“For example, some hosts wore military uniforms or army badges, while others were scantily clad and displayed seductive behavior,” according to state broadcaster CGTN.

“Some of them even spread private Wechat and QQ accounts, luring fans to engage in pornography via social platforms,” it said.

U.S.-based rights activist Liu Qing said homosexuality has long been a documented part of China’s history and culture.

“Homosexuality in China has generally been tolerated, compared with a lot of other places,” Liu said. “But there are still a lot of people with very backward-looking, feudal attitudes in China, in spite of the scientific evidence that shows it is a natural phenomenon.”

“[This leads to] a lot of deliberate discrimination against gay people, unlike in western democracies, which have generally begun to protect their rights.”

‘No big deal’

China’s state propaganda machine last week warned the country’s media not to “make a big deal” of a May 26 ruling by Taiwan’s constitutional court that effectively legalized same-sex marriages in two years’ time.

But rights groups welcomed the landmark ruling, and called on other governments in the region to follow suit.

In April 2016, a court in the central Chinese province of Hunan rejected a complaint filed by a gay man against the government for refusing his application to marry his male partner.

Sun Wenlin, 26, had filed the historic complaint against the Furong district civil affairs bureau in Hunan’s provincial capital Changsha, after officials from the bureau refused to allow him and his partner Hu Mingliang to register their marriage there. (RFA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)