Rela (热拉), a popular lesbian dating app from China, has suddenly gone dark.
People are speculating that the app has been blocked by the country’s notorious content censors, after its participation in an LGBTQ awareness event in Shanghai recently.
The app, which was launched in 2012, has around five million registered users, as a cached version of its iTunes app description showed, according to Reuters.
Users have reported that the app, along with its social media Weibo account, have been blocked:
Rela would only say on its WeChat account that it had temporarily suspended the app due to a “major adjustment” to its service.
It assured users that their accounts were still valid.
“Rela will be with you, please wait for our return!” the message added. “We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
The app’s users have been grieving its demise on Weibo:
“As someone who uses Rela every day, this sudden ban has been difficult. It’s like there was someone who was always there with you, and that someone just suddenly vanished.”
“I’ve been so alone without Rela. I can’t stalk pretty girls in my area,” another user said jokingly. “I dreamt that I could use the app last night, and I even wrote a status update saying: ‘It’s been so long, I missed you guys’.”
“In this two years I’ve used Rela, there’s so many friends and stories that I’ve seen or made,” she added. “I’m waiting for Rela to come back.”
“I didn’t come on for the past few days, and I didn’t think about it,” said LeiMinBrother. “Today I went online and still found that it wasn’t on.”
“I thought just uninstalling the app and reinstalling it would work, but I couldn’t find the app anymore!”
“Rela — you must come back, I’m still depending on you to get out of singlehood!”
“We believe that Rela will come back — as long as Rela doesn’t give up, we will wait for her return.
“If we keep criticising or pointing fingers at people, we could make it more difficult for Rela to come back. We love Rela, let’s just wait patiently.”
Rela’s shutdown comes after the app’s support of an LGBTQ event staged at Shanghai’s Marriage Market, on May 20th, a day the country sets up singles.
The event, organised by Rela and PFLAG, a Guangzhou-based LGBTQ support group, saw 11 mothers travelling to the marriage market in People’s Park to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in China, reported Sixth Tone.
Police later ordered the parents to leave the park, as their “advertising” event was unregistered, according to Sixth Tone.
While it’s not illegal to be gay in the country, China’s wide-ranging anti-pornography laws have been used to shut LGBTQ-friendly dating apps.
In April this year, Zank — a gay dating app which boasted around half a million users in 2014 — was shut down following allegations that it breached the country’s anti-pornography regulations.
Mashable has reached out to Rela for comment.