Censorship Hub

Lawmakers Ask FCC to Ensure LGBT Content Is Not Blocked By Internet Filters at Public Schools & Libraries

In a letter to top officials at the Federal Communication Commission on Thursday, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) and 13 other lawmakers asked the FCC to ensure that internet filtering software used at federally funded schools and libraries does not block LGBT-related content. 

From the letter:

HondaA 2014 report by the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute 'Vision for Inclusion: An LGBT Broadband Future' concluded that LGBT people are dependent on the Internet to meet a range of individual and social needs, which also makes them especially vulnerable to discriminatory Internet policies enacted by schools and libraries.

In an age when high-speed broadband is transforming almost every aspect of our lives, we must ensure online access to every adult and child. We are aware that you are in the midst of a proceeding to modernize the E-rate program. We encourage you to consider this problem in the course of this proceeding and adopt a solution to end this practice. For example, the Commission's regulations could make clear that LGBT educational content should not be filtered in a discriminatory manner.

The letter was also co-signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute, GLAAD, GLSEN, The Trevor Project, and other organizations. 

Read the letter in full, AFTER THE JUMP...

And in related news, Ars Technica recently reported that American Airlines' in-flight wifi was blocking the website misterbnb.com - a version of Airbnb that helps users find a gay-friendly place to stay - under the category of "adult-and-pornography."

MisterbnbHal Lonas, the chief technical officer at Webroot, said that according to Webroot's records, Misterbnb has been blocked since March 2013, supposedly for multiple uses of the word "lesbian." "The count was pretty high," Lonas said. Webroot uses a count of words like these to identify sites as containing "adult" content, and that one criteria alone is enough to get a site filtered. Since that time, according to Lonas, Misterbnb has been lingering in American Airline's Gogo Wi-Fi content filter, waiting for someone to navigate to the site and then find the right person to speak to about the error.

Lonas told Ars that Webroot relies on keywords, apparently sometimes on keywords alone, to filter content. He said medical websites sometimes get caught in the filters the same way Misterbnb did, noting that Webroot does take complaints from partners or customers about what to whitelist or change in its approach. "We're not anti-gay or anti-LGBT, we don't have an agenda," he said. "Of several hundred suggestions for changes (to filtering choices), four or five percent might be false positives." Terms that surround gay culture just conveniently happen to be a statistically effective way of blocking pornography, according to Webroot.

Continue reading "Lawmakers Ask FCC to Ensure LGBT Content Is Not Blocked By Internet Filters at Public Schools & Libraries" »

Ad Agency in Kazakhstan Fined for Poster of Kissing Poets as Leaders Push Ban on Gay 'Propaganda'


In August we reported that a gay club in Almaty, Kazakhstan was under fire for an online ad banner featuring folk singer Qurmanghazy Saghyrbaiuly kissing Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin, a clever take on the fact that the club is located at the intersection of Qurmanghazy and Pushkin streets.

Conservative Kazakhs and Russians, angry over the poster, filed lawsuits, and now the club has been fined, Radio Free Europe reports:

A court in Almaty found Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan Company guilty of "advertising goods and services banned in Kazakhstan."

The court ruled on September 24 that the company's director, Daria Khamitzhanova, must pay a $700 fine and her company a $1,000 fine.

The case against the company was filed by Almaty youth authorities.

Some politicians in Kazakhstan have recently been pushing for Russian-style bans on gay "propaganda". Dauren Babamuratov, leader of the Bolashak national movement, held a press conference last week calling for the laws and claimed that gay people can be identified by "colored pants" and blood tests for "degeneracy."

A History of Hollywood's Sex-Obsessed Censorship in Film: VIDEO


If you've ever wondered why you can blow someone's head off on-screen, but you can't blow someone's "head" off on-screen, this Cinefix video does a great job outlining the early history of censorship in the U.S. mainstream film industry and how we arbitrarily put sex above violence on the "adult-content" list. 



Continue reading "A History of Hollywood's Sex-Obsessed Censorship in Film: VIDEO" »

BBC Facing Backlash for Censoring Gay Kiss from Asia Broadcast of Doctor Who Premiere: VIDEO


The BBC is facing criticism for self-censoring its Asia broadcast of the first episode of the new Doctor Who series by cutting a lesbian kiss scene, South China Morning Post reports:

Thousands of fans missed out on the kiss between lizard-woman Madame Vastra and her human wife Jenny Flint, which the BBC says was cut to comply with broadcasting regulations in Asia.

Local gay-rights groups called the edit "outrageous" and "scandalous" and said it was unfair not to treat the kiss the same as a kiss between a man and a woman.

The BBC Worldwide's London-based compliance team made the cut to conform with laws against homosexuality and broadcast content codes in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Daily Mail adds:

Campaigner Peter Tatchell said: ‘The BBC should not bow to censorship demands from other countries. 

'If these countries are bigoted and are not willing to show same-sex love, they have no right to demand that the BBC conforms to their standards of prejudice.’

Last week we reported that the scene - featuring the first same-sex kiss for Doctor Who in its 50-year history - drew the ire of some anti-gay viewers in the UK.

Watch the 'controversial' scene in question, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "BBC Facing Backlash for Censoring Gay Kiss from Asia Broadcast of Doctor Who Premiere: VIDEO" »

Delaware School Board Cancels Summer Reading List Rather Than Include LGBT Novel

The Miseducation of Cameron Post coverThe Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming-of-age novel about a young lesbian  sent to live with her conservative aunt after her parents die in a car crash. She is subsequently sent to a "de-gaying" camp where she develops a relationship with another girl who becomes her best friend.

The Cape Henlopen School Board in Delaware removed the book from its summer reading list after complaints from parents, allegedly about profanity within the book, but the book's author emily m. danforth (who spells her name in lowercase) and others believe it was due to the subject matter of homosexuality.

When danforth and an AfterEllen campaign protested the school board's decision - a decision they reached by violating their own rules and deciding without proper investigation - the school board took the logical and completely not-crazy next step by canceling the reading list program altogether.

danforth responded with an open letter to the school board, stating in part:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post was included on a librarian-developed list that was part of a summer reading program for incoming freshman. You took the drastic action of removing the book from that list, thereby eliminating it as one of the books students participating in that program might choose to complete their assignment. Yes, my book is (apparently) still available in the school library--which is wonderful--but it is no longer a part of this important summer reading program because of a direct action taken by this school board. Period. That's the very definition of censorship, Mr. Brittingham. But surely you know this. (It does seem that this board rather likes to hide behind its rhetoric.)

The book, as she mentions above, is still available in the school libraries.

[via New Civil Rights Movement]

Why Did Singapore's Anti-Gay Censors Ban Archie's Gay Wedding And Not Northstar's


Earlier this month, state media censors in Singapore banned a 2012 Life With Archie comic book for “promoting alternative lifestyles or deviant sexual practices” through the same-sex marriage of its gay character Kevin Keller.

But surprisingly, the same censors have not banned an Astonishing X-Men issue which features the same-sex marriage of the gay superhero Northstar.

Why not? Channel News Asia quotes a spokesperson from the Singapore Media Development Board:

“The MDA takes a holistic view in assessing content and considers all factors, including the context, presentation and language. While themes may seem similar on the surface, depictions and context often vary across different works…

“The issue featured characters who objected to the wedding and this offered a balanced treatment on the issue of gay marriage.”

The Board goes onto say that the censorship even though they did not outright ban the X-Men comic, they have advised that it be "shrink-wrapped and labelled with the consumer advice 'Unsuitable for the Young.'"


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