Pakistan blocks country's first gay website

ISLAMABAD Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:31pm IST

A man uses the computer at an internet cafe in Rawalpindi September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

A man uses the computer at an internet cafe in Rawalpindi September 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan has blocked access to its first website designed to help gay people meet and support each other in the staunchly conservative Muslim country, the website said on Thursday.

The www.queerpk.com website, Pakistan's first online platform for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people to share views and network, opened in July - a move hailed as a step forward for the long-silent community.

On Thursday, the website said it had been shut by Pakistan's telecoms authority.

"The government would ban anything that is progressive and talks about the rights of minorities," the website said in an emailed statement. "The government does such things to appease the extreme-right all the time."

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority declined to comment. The website is still available outside Pakistan and features the slogan "Don't hate us, know us!"

Being gay is illegal in the South Asian country of 180 million where many people believe that being gay is unIslamic.

Pakistan frequently blocks pages deemed undesirable in a country where the Internet is one of the few places where people can speak openly. Users usually circumvent such bans by using proxy servers.

(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassad and Maria Golovnina; Editing by Alison Williams)

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