Pakistan forces gay site back into the closet

Published September 29th, 2013 - 11:39 GMT
Gay pride shown in the streets. [globalvoicesonline]
Gay pride shown in the streets. [globalvoicesonline]

Ranked by the Pew Research Center as one of the least tolerant countries in the world for gays, Pakistan has shut down Queer Pakistan, it's only internet resource for the countries lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

As reported by CNN, Queer Pakistan just debuted in July of 2012. QP has posted several Twitter responses since being halted by the Pakistani government.

"It's official! QueerPK is banned from viewership in Pakistan."

In an attempt to bring awareness to what Queer PK is claiming to be complete censorship, the organization has shared other sites that may be something the Pakistani government might want to focus more attention on rather than the LGBT community.

"5 Clearly Less Offensive Sites than QueerPk"

Users attempting to access the site in Pakistan are met with the note, "Surf Safely! This website is not accessible. The site you are trying to access contains content that is prohibited for viewership from within Pakistan."

Outside of Pakistan, however, Queer Pakistan can still be accessed by a redirecting link which was formed in response to the shut down.

"#QueerPK is now accessible on new domain name! We are determined to fight #censorship if we have your support!" said Queer Pakistan on Twitter.

So, where does the Pakistani government get the "right" to make such decisions?

Based on the Pakistan Penal Code, it is illegal to be homosexual in Pakistan.  "Under section 377 of the PCC (Pakistan Penal Code), whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which [shall not be less than two years nor more than] 10 years, and shall also be liable to a fine." reports IRIN, humanitarian news and analysis from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  Pakistan still holds the death penalty, one of just a few in the world, for homosexuality behavior, according to the  International Lesbian and Gay Association, or ILGA.

The Pew Research Center's report shows results from a survey done in June which listed 39 countries feedback on homosexuality. In the middle east region, Israel had the highest acceptance rate at about 40% while Pakistan fell in the middle of the group leaving Tunisia as the least accepting country in the region at 2%.

Making Pakistan look slightly more liberal were the rankings of Vatican City, Russia and Egypt. Winning for last place on the entire list was Iran.

In response to the site shut down, Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told CNN,
"The government's blocking of clearly violates internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and non-discrimination, and should be lifted immediately.  Pakistan's shuttering of this news portal shows how incredibly out of step Pakistan is with growing efforts by the United Nations to ensure rights protections for LGBT persons, including the strong public endorsement of LGBT rights given by none other than the U.N. Secretary-General himself.  Pakistan's donors should get off the sidelines and publicly press the government to reverse this internet censorship and permit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity to proceed unhindered."

At this point, Queer Pakistan is rerouting it's efforts but not letting go of the fight by any means,

"Not just earthquakes, some go to the next level and say we are responsible for destruction of Pakistan's economy and even terrorism. Wonder when did we get such power, our mere existence can cause that much destruction? What kind of God you believe in?"

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