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Why has Apple blocked its Pride-themed Apple Watch face in Russia?

Apple’s Pride-themed watch face is unavailable in Russia. Reports suggest the company has outright blocked the LGBTQ-friendly rainbow imagery to avoid a conflict with Russia’s restrictive statutes on “gay propaganda”.

That’s despite Apple launching the watch face and accompanying woven band as part of its “unwavering commitment to equality and diversity.”

Here, Apple wavered. The discovery was made by iOS developer Guilherme Rambo, who says that particular watch face has been “hardcoded to not show up if the paired iPhone is using the Russian locale.” You can see that code in the tweet below.

The Verge is also reporting that users running the iOS 12 beta are seeing the Pride face disappear from their Apple Watch when switching to a Russian locale.

A portion of the proceeds from the Pride edition strap go to a number of LGBTQ charities supported by Apple. Needless to say that strap is not on sale on Apple’s Russian store.

Russia instituted the law “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values” in 2013 with Russians threatened with fines and imprisonment for discussing “non-traditional sexual relations.”

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Apple’s actions are likely being taken to avoid legal censure and, in part, protect Apple Watch users from discrimination. However, the decision still leaves a poor taste.

Apple isn’t alone in its per-region principals. Earlier this summer it emerged that Google is considering the launch of a heavily-censored version of its Google Search engine in order to break ground in China. More than a dozen rights groups are calling on Google not to launch the censored app, calling it an “alarming capitulation by Google on human rights.”

Are you upset by Apple’s decision? Does it reek of hypocrisy? Or is the company acting prudently in this situation? Drop us a line with your thoughts @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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