Fast food chain McDonalds has been accused of censoring gay news and support websites in New Zealand from its free wifi service. The hamburger giant blocks access to GayNZ, a New Zealand equivalent of PinkNews.co.uk, as well as a number of LGBT support groups.
The chain offers free wifi access to customers but while some gay pornography websites are available in New Zealand, the country’s main gay news website is blocked. Blocked sites also include The Advocate; The Agender [sic], a support group for trans people; Rainbow Youth, a support group for LGBT young people and one of the New Zealand AIDS foundation’s websites, Bro Online. The block is reported in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
Lesbian customer Julz Darroch told GayNZ:”In this day and age it has shocked me. Just when we think we can get used to being treated as equals in society, and in the main centres at least, something like this comes along. Our being lesbian or gay, or wanting to be in contact with our friends and communities, should not be an issue for the likes of McDonald’s.”
McDonalds say it’s investigating why the sites have been blocked.
In an editorial, GayNZ said: “After so many years of the internet being an integral part of most people’s daily lives an organisation such as McDonald’s must by now be able to find a more sophisticated way of judging the suitability of actual content for your restaurants rather than just blocking out wholesale an entire site which provides much valuable and family-friendly lifestyle information and service.
“Many erstwhile family-friendly sites such as auction sites, etc. which are not ‘gay’ sites per se provide discussion areas where the user-generated content is much more explicit (and not just sexually) than GayNZ.
“There seems to be no consistency in your policy. We cannot understand why, for example, a NZ AIDS Foundation site is not blocked (and believe that as an important health resource, it should not be blocked) when Family Planning, Rainbow Youth, GayNZ.com, Agender and others are blocked.”