Saudi Government Lifts Gay Web Ban
April 2, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
London—The government of Saudi
Arabia has lifted a ban on two gay news websites following the intervention of
Reporters Without Borders, an international organization for freedom of the
365Gay.com and GayMiddleEast.com were blocked for the
second time in a year by the Internet Services Unit of the government as part
of a crackdown on “immoral” websites. (story) GayMiddleEast is the
region’s largest source of gay news and an affiliate of 365Gay.com the
world’s largest supplier of LGBT news and information.
The Internet Services Unit controls the gateway used by
all Saudi Internet access providers. The agency can thus control all
information exchanged on the Net.
“Officially filtering is only supposed to be applied to
pornographic publications or those directly harming Islam,” said Reporters
Without Borders in a letter to Eyas Al-Hajery, the head of the ISU.
“In fact, the Saudi Internet blacklist extends to other
areas, from political sites to non-recognized Islamist sites via, of course,
any publication relating in any way to sexuality,” the letter continued.
“We condemn this extension of censorship, which is in
the process of reducing the country’s network to an Intranet, as in Burma or
Cuba,” said the organization.
This week, Al-Hajery ordered to the two sites to be
opened up to Saudis.
“After receiving your letter, we carried out a new
examination of these sites. Since no pornographic content was found, the ban
has been lifted” Al-Hajery wrote to Reporters Without Borders.
Homosexuality is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and is
punishable by imprisonment or flogging. The internet ban remains on other
sites including chat services which the kingdom deems to be obscene.
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