Russian version of Apple's Siri accused of being homophobic

Newly-released language update seems to understand Russian word for ‘gay’ as a swear word
Newly-released language update seems to understand Russian word for ‘gay’ as a swear word David Stuart

The Russian-language version of Siri has been accused of homophobia, after a video was released where it called gay marriage "rude" and refused to discuss the idea.

The discovery was made in a video released this week by a man calling himself Alex, a Russian living in London. In the video he asks Siri about gay marriage and where to find gay clubs, and says that the responses show that "Russian Siri is so homophobic".

In the video - which was filmed in London but uses the Russian-language version of Apple's digital assistant - the man is seen asking Siri where he can find a gay club and about the rules for registering a gay marriage. But the iPad he is holding refuses to discuss the issues, giving out responses about how embarrassed it is.

When Alex asks the app where to find "gay clubs around me", Siri tells him that "I would have turned red, if I could". Likewise, when Alex asks how to register a gay marriage in England, the assistant says "I will pretend I haven't heard it".

Reddit users pointed out that the responses were largely similar to those given to any swear word, and that the app seems to register the Russian word "гей", or gay, as a profanity. The word sounds similar to the English word for gay when pronounced and is thought to be a loan word.

Apple told PinkNews that the responses were a "bug" that has now been fixed.

The Russian language option was added to Siri as part of iOS 8.3, released last week, among a host of new languages for the digital assistant and new features including a redesigned emoji keyboard.

Russia's "gay propaganda law" came into effect in 2013, and makes it a punishable offence to teach to be seen to be encouraging homosexual relationships in the country. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has spoken publicly about being gay, last month blasted such anti-gay laws in the wake of the consideration of bills that could institute something like the US rules in some states of the US.

When Tim Cook came out in an open letter last year, it led to the removal of a Steve Jobs memorial in Russia. Politicians in the country also criticised Cook, saying that he should be banned from the country.

Topics:  apple homophobia ios same sex marriage

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