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Australians use Grindr to help swing same-sex marriage vote

It's the final day to enrol for the postal vote, and dating apps are the campaigning ground

Forgoing cheesy openers, dick pics and awkward small talk for the day, Australians are taking to dating apps like Grindr and Tinder to campaign for marriage equality. It’s the last day to register to vote, so users are messaging matches to urge them to enrol.

Currently, the recognition of same-sex marriage is banned under Australian federal law despite rising approval rates among citizens. Civil unions and domestic partnerships are possible in some states and territories, but on September 12, a postal survey will be conducted country-wide. That survey, if successful, could result in “a successful law to legalise same-sex marriage by the end of the year, passed by the House of Representatives and Senate.”

A recent study by the University of Melbourne found 67 per cent of women and 59 per cent of men agreed homosexual couples should have the same marriage, employment and parenting rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

Grindr as a platform has worked to promote sexual health, inclusive politics and self-acceptance. Speaking with Dazed, Grindr's vice president of marketing detailed how the app helped Syrian refugees. “When the Syrian crisis happened we sent out messages to everyone leaving Syria,” Landis Smithers said. “So if you’re gay and you’re leaving Syria and you opened Grindr, there was a message that told you where to find a safe house.

“We spend a lot of time worrying about like, whether or not screen pictures are showing up, and then Jack who is head of our equality department will come in and be like, ‘There’s are really bad syphilis outbreak in Africa and I just helped people understand how to prevent it’ or, ‘There’s a crackdown in Libya where they’re imprisoning people’ and we’re like – oh yeah, we’ve got nothing to worry about. We are so privileged and we need to re-focus ourselves.”

There have been similar campaigns in the past, like the flirty Tinder bot that encouraged the UK's electorate to vote against the Tories in the last election, and an in-app survey conducted by Grindr during the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. This latest campaign has been apparently successful for some users, as detailed below, but only time will truly tell.