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Gay rights website banned in Pakistan

The rights of the minority homosexual population in Pakistan has received a digital setback following a ban for a popular gay advocacy website throughout the country.

The state of internet freedom in the Middle Eastern country has suffered recently as a number of governmental actions have severely limited the content that citizens of the country can access. There are a number of different forms of information available on the internet from videos to Facebook posts, all of which can express opinions that the government may or may not agree with. However, this should not give the ruling powers the right to limit what its citizens can access.

Minorities see rights limited
One of the foremost gay rights websites in the country has been prohibited because it was reportedly "against Islam," according to the Index on Censorship. The website, www.queerpk.com, was banned by the government's Telecommunication Authority recently in another Internet-freedom-supressing move.

The action marks a major setback for the minority homosexual population throughout the country, but unfortunately, many are not surprised, according to the news source.

"It was quite expected and shows how immature this society is and how our government is keen on pandering to the idiocies of the worst among us," Ali (someone who elected to only use his first name) told the news source.

The move sets limits on free expression in a number of ways. It prohibits a minority group from working to gain more rights as citizens online, but also in society as a whole. On top of this, it sets a wider precedent for citizens of the country in which the government can ban any website that it sees fit.

A history of limitations
Despite the internet being a relatively young technology, the ruling powers in Pakistan have been quite active in limiting what its citizens can be allowed to view. One of the major policies that has guided these actions, according to the Christian Science Monitor, has been "morality" and the best interests of the country.

About a year ago, "The Innocence of Muslims" was posted on YouTube and angered many people of a number of different religions throughout the world. In reaction to the video, the government decided that the best course of action would be to ban the video hosting website all together. While many agree that the video that was published was bigoted and distasteful, the banning of YouTube was not a warranted response.

The news source explains that in doing so, many feel that the government has banned any sort of discourse that might run counter to these ruling political agendas, like the discussion of rights for homosexuals. Other internet resources such as Facebook and Twitter are banned in the country for being "blasphemous."

One of the least free countries
Much has been publicized about the internet watchdog Freedom House's most recent report on the state of online freedoms amongst many countries throughout the world. As a global trend, many countries have been employing surveillance programs that have been used to effectively spy on citizens, while more targeted acts of censorship, such as the shutting down of QueerPK, have also become common among many of the world's worst offenders.

Pakistan was ranked among the least free countries across the globe, receiving a score of 67, according to the Times of India. The most free countries had lower scores, with Iceland receiving the top score of 6.

These sorts of actions have been detrimental to the rights of citizens in the country. By not allowing them to access to conflicting opinions, the government limits the course of political discussion in the country. In doing so, the prospects of a free and open society as a whole are suppressed.

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