We can’t know whether the ‘catfishing’ attacks in Cork on LGBTs are connected to the marriage equality vote, says Rob Buchanan.
LGBT people in Cork have been the victims of violent attacks by homophobes using gay dating websites and apps to lure them. It appears the criminals are ‘cat fishing’ LGBT people, using fake profiles on popular dating sites like Grindr and Tinder. Locals in Cork believe the attacks are being orchestrated by the same group in Cork, and if so their activities will probably be known on some level to their friends, girlfriends and families.
While the majority of the reports are still anecdotal, and the motivation of the perpetrators has yet to be established, one thing is for sure: greater caution needs to be exercised by users of dating apps, not only in the Cork area but across the board. The safety of locations for meeting should be considered, along the level of intoxication you are under, before venturing out in to the unknown.
The nature of the beast is that people will continue to use apps out of necessity, despite the associated risk. The odds of us gays finding a one-night stand, let alone a partner, amongst the general public are statistically lower, given our numbers. Many of us don’t live near gay bars or it’s less than easy for us to identify compatible partners at mainstream venues. Dating Apps are sometimes the only way that isolated or shy LGBT people can make any connection at all with members of their community, even if they would never dream of using the resource for sex or dating.
Those of us lucky enough to live in a city with any kind of gay nightlife might still not want to meet people on the scene, and might feel that by using an app they are able to better screen potential partners. However, hook-up sites and apps only provide an illusion of control. They can provide a false sense of security and familiarity, and people tend to shockingly over-share their personal information, not only in chats but in their profiles. The parameters of profile pics are often stretched by even the most honest of users, so it certainly doesn’t take much for an attacker to willfully mislead and waylay someone in order to get a meeting.
Speculation on Facebook is already rampant that these attacks may be in some way connected to the upcoming marriage equality vote. But until
more information is known, or victims come forward, we cannot be certain. I would ask Outmost readers in the Cork area to please keep their eyes open, watch their friend’s backs and report any suspicious activity to the local Gardaí.
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