Asian Man Threatens Class Action Lawsuit Against Grindr For Racial Discrimination

  • Tuesday, July 24 2018 @ 07:30 am
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Laotian-born Sinakhone Keodara was browsing Grindr when he stumbled upon a profile with a succinct description: “Not interested in Asians.”

It wasn’t the first time he encountered discriminatory language on the app, nor was it a surprise to the Asian American friend he later phoned about it. Both had repeatedly experienced racism while using dating services. This time, they decided to do something about it.

Keodara took to social media to announce plans to bring a class-action lawsuit against Grindr for racial discrimination, calling for co-plaintiffs across the United States to join the fight.

“Please spread my call for co-plaintiffs to all your gay Asian men in your life that has been offended, humiliated, degraded and dehumanized by Grindr allowing gay white men to write in their profiles ‘No Asians’, ‘Not interested in Asians’, or ‘I don’t find Asians attractive’,” Keodara wrote on Twitter. “This is complete bullsh*t and I’m suing Grindr for being a breeding ground that perpetuates racism against gay Asian men.”

Keodara, who immigrated to the U.S. from Laos in 1986, told NBC News that “Grindr bears some responsibility” from an “ethical standpoint,” claiming the company “allows blatant sexual racism by not monitoring or censoring anti-Asian and anti-black profiles.”

Research into racism and online dating paints a grim portrait of the experience for POC. A 2015 study found that 15% of Grindr users included sexual racism like “Not attracted to Asians” on their profiles. The worst offenders were white users and users who held broader racist views.

“Sexual closely associated with generic racist attitudes, which challenges the idea of racial attraction as solely a matter of personal preference,” the study authors wrote.

OkCupid also conducted research on the race dynamics of online dating, revealing over multiple posts on the OkTrends blog that racial bias is an ongoing problem that shows little sign of improving. Asian men, black men, and black women face particularly intense discrimination from fellow daters.

NBC News points out that Keodara faces a serious legal hurdle if he continues with the lawsuit: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides broad protection for digital platforms like Grindr that publish third-party content.

Whether or not the suit is successful, it stands to bring attention to a discussion that desperately needs to be had. Keodara has influence and a platform - he is an actor, writer, director, and producer, as well as the founder and CEO of Asian Entertainment Television. His public profile may finally draw enough voices to the issue that it’s too loud to ignore.

Grindr (which, it’s worth noting, was acquired by Chinese gaming firm Kunlun Group Limited earlier this year) has yet to respond.