Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Gay Chat Gets Ignored By Russian Siri

Is Russian-Language Siri Anti-Gay?

The Debrief: Apple product bows to Russia’s anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws…

Russia is a country where ‘gay propadanda’ is banned. This means that anyone seen to be giving information about sexualities other than robust Putin-esque heterosexuality to under 18s is punished. This varies from people just looking a bit gay to gay clubs having to operate underground.

And it shows, even in imported Apple products. When you put an iPhone onto Russian, its Siri just won’t talk about gay things in the same way other language iPhones will. A Russian-speaking guy has shown that if you ask it questions about gay clubs, or gay marriage, it’ll do this:

Alex: ‘Siri, gay clubs around me?

Siri: ‘I would have turned red (blushed) if I could.’

Alex: ‘How to register a gay marriage in the UK?’

Siri: [Silence]

Alex: ‘How to register a gay marriage in the UK?’

Siri: ‘I will pretend I haven't heard it.’

Alex, who’s originally from Russia but now lives in the UK, told the BBC: ‘I was out with friends who'd updated their phones to the latest version of iOS. Russian Siri was one of the new features available. So we made queries using the word 'gay' and got very weird replies. We also got similar responses with the word “lesbian”’

Apple have fixed the problem, Alex says, ‘But there hasn't been an explanation as to how it happened in the first place’

We wonder…who even recorded that ‘I would have turned red if I could’ line and did they feel good about that? While technology was used in the Arab Spring to liberate people, it seems like it can equally be used to crack down on people’s freedoms.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Russia, LGBT, Tech