News :: International

Pakistan Blocks Its First LGBT Support Website

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Sep 25, 2013
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Pakistan officials have blocked the country’s first website that aims to support the country’s LGBT community, according to the BBC.

In an interview with the BBC, the founder of Queerpk.com stated that Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority removed the site, which touts the slogan "Know us, don’t hate us." The goal of the site is to raise awareness about LGBT issues and offer advice and provide sex education to the country’s LGBT community.

Being gay is still a controversial issue in the South Asian country and as BBC writes, homosexuality is "technically illegal, although laws are rarely enforced."

Though the site works in other parts of the world (it’s been mirrored to another domain, humjins.com) when BBC opened Queerpk.com in Pakistan, a message popped up that ’access is denied due to forbidden content.’

"Our website does not contain any explicit or offensive content so the PTA decision to close down the website without any notice is unconstitutional and opposes freedom of speech," Queerpk.com’s founder, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC. "Mostly, us homosexuals use this website to bring forward health-related issues as sex education is a taboo in this country.

"That is the reason why we carefully chose our language so as there is no reason for the government to ban this," the founder added.

Queerpk’s founder also told the BBC that the website’s staff doesn’t want to take any legal action because they don’t want to be put under the public spotlight. They do hope, however, that human rights groups and social workers will protest the banning to Pakistan’s government.

The BBC also notes that YouTube has been banned in Pakistan for over a year.

A similar incident occurred earlier this month, when Turkey officials blocked the gay hookup app Grindr. According to the country’s LGBT group, Kaos GL, the country’s Telecommunications Communications Presidency censored the app on Sept. 10 as a "protection measure." Grindr’s website is also banned.

When trying to access the app’s site, the following message appears:

"The decision no 2013/406 dated 26/08/2013, which is given about this website (grindr.com) within the context of protection measure, of ’İstanbul Anadolu 14. Sulh CM’ (İstanbul Anatolia 14th Criminal Court of Peace) has been implemented by ’Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı’ (Telecommunications Communication Presidency)."

"The court decision is not published online and so we have no access to the procuration and therefore do not yet know what was the reason for the censorship," Hayriye Kara, the LGBT group’s lawyer, told the Huffington Post. "It is most likely related to ’general morality,’ an ambiguous term used often against trans sex workers."

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