AYA – an app connecting LGBTQ+ people all over India

Stuti Raha

21st November 2020

AYA dating app for the LGBTQ+ community(Source: The Hindu)

Two years ago, Article 377 of the Indian Constitution that criminalised homosexuality was struck down. Two women – Sunali Aggarwal and Aditi Gupta who founded the company in June 2020 – noticed the lack of representation for the LGBTQ+ community on mainstream dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid, Delta and decided to start an app of their own. AYA or 'As You Are' is an Indian dating platform exclusively for the LGBTQ+ community.

People joining the app are asked to provide their hobbies, habits, and interests while creating their profiles. The app does not force people to share too much of their personal information. The app is in English and has 60 people signing up daily with about 5000 downloads in 5 months. Sunali while talking to The Hindu, said, “The algorithm initially worked such that we would give matches based on the user's orientation from the LGBTQ spectrum. Now in the wider spectrum, one can choose the gender one wants to date. The algorithm is now more in control of the user.”

AYA users need to fill in basic details such as gender orientation, e-mail address, phone number, and upload a selfie that is verified by the team working behind the app. There is a strict verification process in which the selfies are checked manually to see if they are the same person or not. "If 100 people sign in, only 25 get through,” remarked Sunali on the careful security measures taken by the app.

In an interview with DT Next, Sunali mentioned, "AYA is a social networking platform built specifically for Indian LGBTQ+ people. At AYA we understand the unique dating challenges that Indian lesbian, bi, gay, trans, and queer people face – lack of opportunity, lack of privacy, lack of acceptance, harassment, social judgement. Our platform uses carefully designed features and processes to provide users a safe space, a place where they can meet other people, their kind of people, discreetly and confidently. We believe declaring sexual orientation and gender identity is an individual's personal choice. We verify, we match, but it is the users who decide what level of detail they want to share, with whom and when.”

The AYA team is also planning to make the app regional in the future. They believe the app will have a greater reach if the content can also be provided in regional languages.

(Sources: The Hindu, The Indian Express, DT Next, ED Times)

Edited by: Suditi Jha

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