Among them is a Telegram channel for Tehran’s gay and lesbian singles.
Much like the “chain” reformist newspapers during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency in the late 1990s and early 2000s—when one paper would be forced to shut down, another one would spring to life with a different name but the same agenda and editorial staff—a dating site may be blocked but a similar one will soon appear.
The situation has gotten so dire, from the government’s point of view, that it issued a statement two years ago announcing that dating websites were illegal.
Almost instantaneously, people find ways to overcome the obstacles to access these forbidden sites.
Defeating the tech-savvy crowd has proved to be difficult for the government, which has resorted to entreaties to young Iranians to appreciate the forgotten value of marriage and to threaten punishment to those who go on line in search of temporary hook ups.
There has been a significant decline in nuptials, with a growing number of Iranian men and women not interested in starting families and an increasing number of couples cohabiting without getting married—what is known as white marriage.
Rather than discouraging youth from going online to find soul-mates, the government has established an official “spouse-finding” website, with counselors, monitors who make sure no one bends the rules and questionnaires to ensure the parties of their compatibility.
Or they would go to underground parties where the music was loud, the tequila flowed and the hosts had bribed the police to leave them alone so guests wouldn’t jump out of their skins at the sound of a doorbell. At first, the service was so slow that this writer remembers dialing up and going to the kitchen to put on a kettle for tea while waiting for the inbox to appear.
Those who used the Internet on a regular basis were so far and few between that its future seemed sketchy at best.
Iran premieres a state-sanctioned matchmaking site in hopes of encouraging more young Iranians to marry.