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Russian Siri Criticized For Homophobic Responses

Russian Siri Criticized For Homophobic Responses
Suri and the Scots indigo_girl / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0


Russian Siri Criticized For Homophobic Responses

Apple's iPhone

Image from Flickr by indigo_girl

The newly launched iPhone’s Russian-speaking Siri has found itself shrouded in criticism after it allegedly provided offensive and prejudiced answers when asked about homosexuality.

Voice-activated assistant Siri, installed for Apple’s iPhones and iPads, responds to queries asked onto the device and recommends useful information such as Internet links.

Alex, a Russian residing in London, asked Siri a series of questions regarding gay marriages. The video of the conversation went viral on YouTube and Reddit.

The translation of the video is as follows:

Alex: “Siri, gay clubs around me?

Siri: “I would have turned red if I could.”

Alex: “How to register a gay marriage in the UK?”

Siri: [Silence]

Alex: “How to register a gay marriage in the UK?”

Siri: “I will pretend I haven’t heard it.”

Although the English variant of the service is well-praised for clever responses, the Russian-speaking version is under scrutiny following the responses it gave.

Apple responded to the public uproar, saying that Siri’s homophobic answers were the result of a bug. Although the defect, they say, has been rectified, the incident has brought to the fore Russia’s stand on LGBT rights and homosexuality.

A rumor said that the Russian version of Siri was designed in a way to conform to Russian law. In 2013, a law was passed banning “homosexual propaganda among minors.”

A Reddit user said, “Apple is required to conform to the law of the land in order to sell devices in a place. Recognizing that is realism, not cynicism.”

Alex, who is gay, said, “I don’t know whether Apple did this itself or this is the work of a contractor but the result is the same. This just shows that all the words about supporting diversity and equality are amended to the existing marketplace and in Russia they don’t want any association with being pro-gay, I would imagine.”

“The words gay and lesbian are neutral in Russian, they appear in dictionaries, they are legitimate words,” he added.

According to a Russian LGBT site, when Siri was told that “Lesbianism is normal”, it replied, “There’s no need to speak like that.”


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About Shaurya Arya

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