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Inappropriate versus appropriate language

We get to express ourselves online, but sometimes the language we use can be harmful to others in the LGBTIQ+ community. Be aware that what you write in your dating profile or in private messages can be harmful or intrusive.


Welcome back!

It's time for

"They Said What?!"

Dating apps - where ugly
words are more widespread

than glitter at Mardi Gras.

But it seems a lot of us just forget

there's an actual person on
the other side of the message

and it sucks to get a (bleep) message.

And don't just take my word for it.

"No rice, no spice, no curry!"

You know they're not preferences, right?

It's prejudice.

Do you still have a (bleep)?

Seriously?! How is that
any of your business?


You're so pretty...

for an Aboriginal.


It's not a compliment. It's just racist.

So, lovely people,
think before you send.

Because ugly talk, it ain't just ugly.

It's downright hate speech.

And remember, don't be a (bleep).

Play nice, stay safe.

They said what?!

Online dating may be a great way to meet new people, but it's important to think about how your words may affect others.

Avoid invasive questions

Everyone within the LGBTIQ+ community is on their own journey, and because of this, we shouldn’t make assumptions as to what they are prepared to talk about. It is best to avoid sending messages that question someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, bodily characteristics and cultural background.

Remember, being asked invasive questions doesn’t tend to spark romance, and some questions and comments can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of the person reading them.

Personal stories

These personal stories are real accounts from our community engagement sessions, only the names have been changed. They show how discriminatory language can offend someone and affect their self-esteem.

‘I used to lie about my Aboriginal background because of the negative messages I used to receive.’

‘When people asked me what my nationality was and I answered that I was Aboriginal, they would come back and say, “You are too pretty to be Aboriginal” or “OK not interested” and then block me. I then changed my profile stating that I was Spanish. It was like magic – everybody was suddenly interested in me. But I felt terrible for denying myself, so I changed my profile again saying that I was Aboriginal and that I was not into racists. I have the right to be proud of my identity and nobody can take that away from me.’  – Kirra*


‘I’m upfront online about being trans but some people think they can just ask the most personal questions without even knowing me, or even saying hello first.’

‘That is why I don’t use dating apps anymore; I got tired of cis-men questions about my genitals – questions like “have you got the surgery?” In my opinion this is sexual harassment. I wish people would be more respectful when they chat with trans people online.’ – Rob*


‘It can be really tough on the apps sometimes – I’ve had to deal with all sorts of racism.’

‘Sometimes it’s casual racism but other times it can be much more aggressive. My profile says I am Australian. Sometimes I get messages saying, "You're not Australian” or "Where are you really from?”, or their profile says, "No Asians". I have now put my preferences upfront on my profile, “No racists”. I make it clear that I am not interested in people who think less about me because of my background.’ – Zhan*


*The personal stories quoted here are real accounts taken from eSafety's community engagement sessions, only the names have been changed.

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Last updated: 26/09/2022