Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex or queer

Online safety advice and support for the LGBTIQ+ community.

This page is for adults. Advice and support for young people who are out, trans or gender diverse is also available. 

Safer ways to connect online

If you are lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and/or intersex, the internet can offer an easy, anonymous way to meet other LGBTIQ+ people. 

Whether you are interested in friendship or romance, chances are you will be perfectly safe online. But here are some things to think about.

Making connections online

Dating apps and websites — like Grindr, Scruff, Her, and Tinder — are one of the most common ways to meet other LGBTIQ+ people. Below are some tips to help you have a safer and more enjoyable time online.

Know the rules or purpose of the online space. It’s no use looking for friends on an app or site that is primarily about dating.

Look out for things that don’t add up, such as their online profile is not consistent with what you see and hear when you talk or chat with them. 

Look out for signs that indicate someone may not be who they say they are. If they say their webcam is not working, this may be a sign that someone is pretending to be someone else in order to scam or extort money from you. Read more about online scams and identity theft.

Protect your identity and personal information. Don’t use your full name in your username or handle. Be wary of anyone who wants to know a lot of personal information about you when you have only just met. Read more about how to protect your personal information.

Be aware of the risks if you share nude or intimate images of yourself. Once an image is shared online, it can be difficult to remove and you may lose control over who it is shared with. If you do decide to share intimate images, consider not including your face or other characteristics that could be used to identify you, such as distinctive tattoos. You could also check that the background of the shot does not match any images of you that are already in the public domain, such as your profile pictures on other social media services. Learn more about ‘revenge porn’ or image-based abuse.

Check the age of the people you are chatting to online. Find out more about laws relating to sexting or sending nudes.

Remember, it is always OK to say no if someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, or if you don’t trust what they are telling you. And if someone says no to you, respect their wishes.

If someone comes to your home, ensure that any personal documents that form part of your identity — such as bank statements, utility bills, and your driver’s license or passport — are securely stored. These documents could be used to steal your identity.

What to do if you run into problems

If someone has shared, or is threatening to share, an intimate, nude or sexual image of you, you can make an image-based abuse report to eSafety. Find out more about image-based abuse and read the image-based abuse quick guide for LGBTIQ+ people. You can also read personal stories from people who have experienced image-based abuse.  

If someone is threatening or harassing you online, read our tips and advice about how to deal with adult cyber abuse.

If you are experiencing online abuse or stalking from a current or former partner, read our advice on how to deal with technology-facilitated abuse as part of domestic and family violence.

Homophobic and transphobic online abuse

Most websites and apps will take homophobic and transphobic abuse down if you report it. You can find tips and info on how to report abusive content in most social media services, games and apps in The eSafety Guide.

Remember that it is not just LGBTIQ+ people who are affected by transphobic or homophobic abuse online. Sometimes people will label someone as ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or use homophobic or transphobic slurs to abuse them online. 
If you see homophobic or transphobic abuse, and it is safe to do so, call it out, report it, or help someone else report it. You could also ask the person who posted the comment online to delete it. 

Even if it is not directed towards you, you can report homophobic or transphobic abuse. Learn more about how to report abusive content in The eSafety Guide.

Get help and support

If you need support or just want to talk to someone who understands what you are going through, connect with an LGBTIQ+ counselling or support service.

Other links and resources

Say it out loud — start talking about the kinds of relationships we want and the behaviours we, as individuals and as a community, won’t accept.

Domestic and family violence — find out more about domestic and family violence in LGBTIQ+ relationships.