Nepal gay activist 'blocked' by British censors
Mar 29, 2007 - 12:00:32 PM
Kathmandu, March 29 - One of Nepal's foremost gay rights activists and founder of Nepal's only group devoted to protecting rights of sexual minorities has accused British airport authorities of homophobia and discrimination against gays.
Sunil Pant, president of Blue Diamond Society -, a Nepali NGO that has initiated a series of initiatives since its inception six years ago to promote gay rights in the conservative country, says British airport authorities have blocked Internet access to the web sites of BDS and other gay rights bodies.
On Wednesday, Pant, in transit in London, was trying to access the BDS web site at the Heathrow Airport to see the news updates but found the site had been blocked.
'As soon as I enter the site address - www.bds.org.np - a window pops up and tells me, 'Access Denied',' Pant told IANS.
When he clicked to know why the site was blocked, he was told: 'The SiteCoach thinks this website contains content harmful to the young public - this page was blocked. Reason: Domain with forbidden contents.'
A stunned Pant says that's not all.
When he tries to open other sites related to gay and lesbian issues, including the Britain-based www.gaytimes.co.uk, he found all the sites were blocked on the ground that they contained 'harmful contents'.
'This is dreadful,' said an outraged Pant, whose organisation is the recipient of funding by British rock star Elton John to help its work on spreading awareness among same-sex groups in Nepal on HIV and AIDS.
'I am really upset and demand that the British government and airport authorities end such discriminatory practice immediately.'
Ironically, the BDS web site contains nothing more 'harmful' than news about its campaigns like organising the first same sex marriage in Nepal in public and supporting trans-genders' efforts to obtain citizenship, events that have been reported without any censorship by Nepal's media.
The web site is also used to campaign for the release of trans-genders who are often arrested by police and intimidated and even raped inside police stations.
The issues raised by BDS have also received the support of the Nepal office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
What is even more ironic is that the Department for International Development, the aid wing of the British government, supports some BDS projects like the publication of a newsletter.
The airport censorship and blocking of the web site comes on the eve of a British minister's visit to Kathmandu. Minister Gareth Thomas will pay a three-day trip from April 2.
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