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Bristol: Councillor criticises council for banning web access to gay film review site

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  1. Sounds like it was quickly and sensibly resolved, but this is a wider problem. My mobile 3G wouldn’t even let me access Pink News without registering to prove I’m over 18.

    1. Don’t be shy – name and shame the offending company !

      1. Virgin.

  2. there are many site locked by companies even Pink News but generally when it brought to their attention there no willys to view they generally lift the ban -well done for the company lifing the ban sometimes these filters block everything

    1. Yeah, the problem isn’t so much organisations which use the filtering products such as schools or councils, but the companies who make them. Sites like Pink News or Gay Celluloid being banned is a remnant of homophobia at a lot of the web blocking companies, who would either ban such sites as “pornographic” or some such nonsense, or even have a special category for “oh no, gayness D:”. A few years ago, a fair few of web filtering companies wouldn’t even consider changing their position on such sites. I do very much hope that that’s changed now, and that when we still see such things it’s just remnants of an older age that haven’t been noticed and removed from an old database, though I can’t say for sure that all web filtering companies have changed such discriminatory practices.

  3. I have an age-restriction block on my phone, and it regularily stops me going on “gay” sites that feature no sexual content whatsoever asking me to prove I’m over 18.

    Quite frustrating to see that anything remotley “gay” is still seen as something kids shouldn’t have access to and likened to porn and other “adult” content.

    Happens on an app called stumbleupon which even has a “Gay Culture” section but, still has crazy restrictions!! Find it quite offensive to be honest. See girls with their tits out all the time, but apparently an informative article on anything other than heterosexuality is considered “adult”

    1. agree sure there are more explicit photos etc to view on the web but kids can look tits in the sun and thats OK

      1. So true, although I have a feeling it’s probably down to ill-thought out automated filters and not the deliberate actions of various censors, but who can say! The company is 02, I should have questioned them about it when getting the block removed but it slipped my mind.

  4. I had the same problem when I used kaspersky antivirus. The web filter would block every site featuring the word “gay”, even from the BBC

    1. The BBC is actually quite homophobic and biased so I’m not surprised :P

  5. This is what happens when you use a hammer to crack a nut! All these people calling for restrictions on web porn-and for opt-in to be the default-should realise they will also block any reference to the word “gay”- because most filters automatically categorise “gay” as equalling “porn”. We have a mountain to climb unblocking every single one.

  6. I know that, here in the United States, filterware tends to have quite puritanical heuristics. I found out that this is because most filterware developers and consumers are fundamentalist Christians, so the baseline assumptions are mainly oriented toward that demographic, as they are the main demographic that actually cares whether websites are filtered for perceived indecency. I’ve met far too many provincial “moral” middle Americans who instantly categorically associate “gay” with sex and lewdness, and find it uncouth for the topic to so much as be referenced in the mixed company of children or teenagers. “Better be safe than sorry,” but sometimes the steps taken themselves can have a socially very offensive dimension.

    I don’t know what particular circumstances there are in the U.K. and whether they are similar – including whether any common filterware used there actually came from the U.S.

    1. That is to say, sometimes the “safeguards” taken against certain topics (such as gay issues) can themselves be very offensive.

  7. This does sound awfully like Bristol City Council’s stock response when you raise problems with them. From long experience, their approach always seems to be “apologise for the specific incident if we have to but never ever try to determine if there is a root cause and do something about it”. How many other sites like this are blocked, and under what criteria? Who decides the blocking criteria and have they been given any diversity training? Easy questions.

  8. I’m sorry, but why was he wanting to show a review of his film whilst at council offices? He is welcome to show it on his own personal computers. I can understand why local government wants to restrict its employees and councillors on what they can view. Whilst this site may not have been offensive, I don’t see any reason why anyone should view it whilst at work or performing duties as a councillor.

    1. Cllr Martin, a film maker, wanted to show someone a review of his film Cal – which is to be shown tomorrow as part of Bristol Pride at the city’s Watershed venue.

      Not the film, a review. And Bristol Pride is almost certainly sponsored by Bristol City Council, and the Watershed is a partially Council funded organisation which has a Councillor on the Board.

    2. Both Watershed and Pride are officially supported by Bristol City Council, so viewing the film website may well have been official council business.

      Finding the URL and emailing it may have taken only a few seconds, shorter than a coffee or ciggie break, and in any case he may have been using the computer only during his lunch break.

      Of course, if he’s not a council employee then he would have been accessing it in his own time so the question doesn’t even arise.

      1. Sorry, Ian, I wasn’t plagiarising your comment – hadn’t seen it until I posted my comment above – it must be telepathy ! !

        1. No problems. I have been a Councillor in the past so feel for this guy …

  9. PeterinSydney 15 Jul 2013, 9:40pm

    Well don Britain! But sadly Australia is still back in the slow lane for equal marriage because of fuddy duddy leaders.

  10. Christian Martin 27 Jul 2013, 11:42am

    Bristol has free wifi on our major streets and in the council house and other council properties that are open to the public. I wasn’t at work when I tried to access this website (which keeps getting unblocked and then blocked again). Councillors don’t “work” per se for the council but I had just attended a meeting and was in the lobby showing a colleague the review – or trying to.

    A quick google search reveals that there are many complaints about web blocking especially of sites that have gay content.

    The main thrust of my approach to the press (which wasn’t covered) was on the way people so easily and with impunity make a correlative link between the word ‘gay’ (or stories with the subject of men+men or women+women kissing or in a relationship) and their categorisation of it being pornographic as a consequence. This I find more annoying and denigrating than being blocked by a filter programme that can be re-programmed.

    1. Filters you say? 27 Jul 2013, 12:19pm

      Man up

  11. Peter Jarman 27 Jul 2013, 12:59pm

    I’ve been following this discussion with interest on the Post website.

    It would seem that gay celluloid was blocked because it was classified as adult and pornographic. The interesting part of this is that the blocking company’s definition includes sexually explicit art. Gaycelluloid reviews cover a broad range of films, some of which include overt nudity and even some that are described as having the ‘erect full monty’ it doesn;t take a massive leap of faith to see that an automated system would block a site like this.

    I also saw that someone had checked the webfiltering site checker for which was not listed as adult and pornographic and that cllt Martins own website is also not blocked.

    1. Bill Simpson 29 Jul 2013, 7:03pm

      I note from today’s Bristol post that one of the films reviewed on gay celluloid has been described in it’s review as “what it is, is hardcore gay porn”

      It’s hardly surprising that the web filtering software classified the site as adult and pornographic.

      Mr Martin’s own personal website which includes synopses of all of his films in not blocked at all and is categorised as business and economic.

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