Hornet provides a community home base that is available anytime, anywhere. We create that community home base where our users feel comfortable sharing their experiences with friends who understand and validate their lives. Unfortunately, there are people, organizations, or governments with malicious intent who seek to take advantage of that.
It is a very sad fact that there are countries around the world where it is extremely dangerous for gay men to express their authentic selves. It is imperative that gay men know how to stay safe amid adversity. We have seen crises for LGBTQ people in Chechnya, Egypt, Morocco and Uzbekistan.
It is extremely important that if you live in, or are visiting, a country where LGBTQ life is persecuted, you pay extreme caution to safety. We have produced some general safety tips here. Tips that are more specific for users in a country that is anti-LGBTQ are as follows:
1/ Most people on gay apps are genuine, however, there is still some danger. Be very careful of what you share through Hornet or any other app. Check the other person’s profile for The Hornet Badge.
2/ Do not share your personal information freely. Do not give your name, address, telephone number, location, employer or school.
3/ Hide the location on your profile. Your position cannot be triangulated on Hornet. If someone says they have ‘hacked’ Hornet to get your location, they are lying! They are trying to trick you into disclosing your location.
4/ Remember that your conversation is being logged on both phones. The other user can screenshot that information. On Hornet, if you delete your profile, it will also delete your conversation permanently from the other phone. But, that will not delete any information that the other person has taken a screenshot of.
5/ When not using the Hornet app, log out of your account. You can also delete the Hornet app from your phone when you are not is a safe space. Deleting the Hornet app is not enough – you have to also log out of your account. Do not worry – when you are again in a safe space, you can download the Hornet app again and log back into your profile.
6/ You can adopt the practice of regularly deleting your Hornet account. This will permanently delete all the information about you from the Hornet app. You can create a new account when you need to. This ensures there is a minimum of information on the app, should someone get access to your phone or Hornet account. If a person confronts you about why you have the Hornet app on your phone, you can say that you downloaded the app by mistake, not knowing what the app was for. There is a negative aspect to this practice: as you will consistently have a newly created account, it will make your profile less trustworthy to other users. You should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages.
7/ The most important point is to not show your face on your profile photo. Do not make it easy for a viewer to identify you. There have been incidents in the past when people have downloaded gay apps and taken screenshots to identify and name the guys they find on the app.
8/ If you are sharing nude photos, never show your face in the photo. Take the photo without your face showing, or, crop your face out of the photo. Using software to obscure your face is not secure. Be careful that there is nothing in the background that may identify you or your location. Do not show an identifiable tattoo or body marking.
9/ If the other person is refusing to send photos, then proceed with caution. Get to know the person more. Take it slow. Perhaps he is also scared to share his photo with you, so, you can agree to get to know each other first, before you exchange photos. It is important that you build trust. You can try video chat so that both people will be sharing their images at the same time, but, again, proceed with caution with this. He can record or screenshot. If you do use video chat, do not say or do anything on the call that could incriminate you.
10/ Never agree to meet a person or go on a date unless you know what the person looks like. Get multiple photos of the guy, to ensure the photos that are being shared are genuine.
11/ If you do agree to meet a person, and he is different from the person in the profile/photo/video, then leave immediately. Do not worry about offending him. Your safety is important and time is critical.
Understanding the Penal Code
12/ In many countries, homosexuality and/or gay sex acts are illegal. It does not matter if it happens in private, or, if it is consensual, or, if money has been exchanged. You can be arrested. Even in countries where it is not specifically illegal, other laws may be used against LGTBQ. Typically, these will be “morality” laws.
13/ Don’t describe verbally or in writing what you want to do sexually, what you enjoy sexually, or what you have done sexually in the past. This may be enough for you to be arrested.
Before a date
14/ Before you meet, search for his phone number on the Truecaller app, Facebook, and social media. Is there any information that makes you suspicious? If yes, do not go on the date.
15/ Delete all private photos off your phone as well as any chats between you and your partners. If you can’t delete this information, buy another phone and put your SIM card in it when you go to meet someone. Make sure there is nothing on this phone that malicious law enforcement officials could use against you.
16/ Memorize the phone numbers of a few of your most trusted friends — or write them down and put them in your wallet. Write them in a form of code, that only you can understand. Be sure to leave your full name with a trusted friend.
17/ When going to meet someone, tell your trusted friend when and where you’ll be. Also, give them the other person’s phone number. Agree to check in with each other at a pre-determined time, to confirm you are safe.
During a meetup
18/ When you’re waiting to meet someone, wait inside a cafe, coffee shop, or store — not on the street. Many people have been arrested this way. Police may accuse you of “loitering”, or “soliciting”.
19/ If the person you are meeting turns out to be a police entrapment scheme, or it is a homophobic person who tries to assault you, just RUN! RUN! RUN! If you can’t run, yell for help — at least that way there will be witnesses. You’re already in danger, so don’t worry about a scandal. Silence won’t help you! Plan an escape route in advance, for that location.
If you get arrested
20/ When you are taken to the police station, do not confess to anything. You will be traumatized, in shock, and you will want the situation to end as quickly as possible. Do not confess in the hope that it will end the situation quickly. Try to stay calm and listen carefully to the questions they are asking you and the statements they are making.
21/ Deny all charges against you. Even if they state your punishment will be less if you confess, do not confess to anything. A regime that arrests you for this will never sympathize with you, release you or ‘go easy’ on you if you confess. It is a trick to get you to confess.
22/ Police may try to show sympathy to get you to confess or name names, but don’t be fooled! This is a trick so they can prove you’re guilty.
23/ Try to reach out to a friend and tell them where you are so they can send a lawyer. If this is not possible, you can arrange this in advance. Agree with a friend that if you do not contact him to state you are safe by a certain time, then he will try to find out if you have been arrested and contact a lawyer. Research LGBTQ-friendly lawyers that you can trust and turn to in a crisis like this.
24/ If you are beaten, tortured, or harassed at the police station, whether by the officers or other people detained, state this firmly. State it in writing in the investigation report.
25/ If the police officers try to take photos, or there are journalists who try to take photos, try to hide your face from the camera and refuse firmly.
After you are released
26/ If you believe that your life or well-being is in further danger, you can contact Hornet at email@example.com. We may be able to refer you to organizations that will be in a position to help. There are international organizations that can help LGTBQ people who are being persecuted.
If there is anything on this page that you want to ask for further advice on, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.