Barely two months after it was launched, Pakistan's first and so far only gay Web site, Queer Pakistan, has been blocked by authorities. Officials said the Web site defied Islamic norms and traditions. A day after it was blocked, Queer Pakistan came back online on a different domain name.
First and So Far Only Gay Web Site in Pakistan Blocked, ‘Un-Islamic’
On Wednesday, Pakistan's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) advocacy and support group announced to its Twitter followers what it had encountered.
"Surf Safely! This website is not accessible. The site you are trying to access contains content that is prohibited for viewership from within Pakistan," the note that greets netizens trying to access the Web site www.queerpk.com within the country read.
"We blocked the website under the law because its content was against Islam and norms of Pakistani society," Kamran Ali, a spokesman from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, said.
"The government's blocking of Queerpk.com clearly violates internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and non-discrimination, and should be lifted immediately," Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told CNN.
"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," he added.
On the same day it was blocked, Queer Pakistan vowed it won't be silenced, and the following day, Thursday, it made good its promise.
Launched just in July, Queer Pakistan said its site was rolled out to give the country's LGBTQ community members a safe place to connect and communicate.
"We wanted to provide a platform for people who are being abandoned by society because of their sexual likes," one of Queer Pakistan's anonymous moderators told AFP.
"The government would ban anything that is progressive and talks about the rights of minorities," the Web site said in a statement. "The government does such things to appease the extreme-right all the time."
The Web site, still available outside Pakistan, now features the slogan "Don't hate us, know us!"
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