Yesterday's IFEX Communique says that "Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on two gay websites in response to pressure from Reporters Without Borders... Access to the websites gaymiddleast.com and 365gay.com within the country had been blocked since early March 2004 after authorities deemed them 'pornographic.' The country's Internet Services Unit (ISU), which controls all access to the Internet in Saudi Arabia, said in a written response to RSF on 30 March 2004 that 'after receiving your letter, we carried out a new examination of these sites' and found no pornographic content.
"Gaymiddleeast.com reports on gay issues, including discrimination, homophobia and gay rights, in the Middle East, says RSF. Its coverage extends to 15 countries. Homexuality is banned in Saudi Arabia and punishable by imprisonment or flogging. RSF welcomed the ISU's move, saying it hoped it would be a first step towards easing Internet censorship in Saudi Arabia.
"A few days prior to the lifting of the ban, RSF had staged a mock Cannes Film Festival prize ceremony, awarding a 'First Prize for Censorship' to Saudi Arabia for Internet censorship. The government has created one of the world's largest Internet filtering systems, blocking local access to more than 400,000 web pages, RSF said..."