Publishers in Pakistan have refused to print a photo showing two Chinese men kissing as part of an article in International New York Times about same-sex marriage. The article, which was about Sun Wenlin and his legal challenge for the right to marry his boyfriend, ran with a large blank space. A disclaimer from the editors read, “This picture was removed by our publishing alliance in Pakistan. The International New York Times and its editorial staff had no role in its removal.”
This isn’t the first time the paper has been censored in Pakistan. An entire article about attacks on Bangladeshi bloggers disappearing in early January, whereas Mr. Sun’s story still made it into the paper. “Mostly Pakistani people are socially conservative. They are not extremists, they just don’t want their children to see such images,” explained one man in Mic, although some may beg to differ. Religion is the main player in Pakistan’s conservatism, but the reaction is not entirely dissimilar to China. Queer people continue to be marginalised through passive invisibility. This story, however, was carried in English language Chinese media. “I can’t abide by people imposing their values on me,” Mr. Sun told Global Times.
Mr. Sun’s case was heard on January 28th, the day after the New York Times article was published. The story had received relatively little international attention prior to that, perhaps surprising given the significance of the case and the recent focus on marriage equality in East-Asia. Maybe it’s just easier to talk about Pakistan being terrible and repressive than it is to learn about activists.
A final verdict from the court may not be delivered before August.