The government of Saudi Arabia government has voiced its objection to .gay – a proposed new generic top-level domain name like .com.
The Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) of Saudi Arabia said the .gay address ending would ‘promote homosexuality’ and be ‘offensive to many societies and cultures.’
Saudi Arabia censors many LGBT related websites. A study by the OpenNet Initiative, an academic network focussing on Internet censorship, found 170 LGBT sites were blocked by CITC in Saudi Arabia.
These include the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Gay Middle East, and Stonewall, the British gay campaign organization.
In 2010 Gay Middle East exposed how Arabic LGBT search terms are censored by Microsoft’s BING Arabic search engine, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking with the BBC a spokeswoman from The Lesbian and Gay Foundation said: ‘Sites under .gay would be carefully regulated and would not “promote homosexuality” but offer crucial support.
‘Arguably it is even more important for people living in countries such as Saudi Arabia where homosexuality is illegal and sometimes punishable by death to access this crucial support and lifeline.'
Andy Wasley, from Stonewall UK also told the BBC: ‘Saudi Arabia already prevents its 1.9 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people from visiting community websites, like Stonewall's, that offer support and information. It's disappointing that it now wants to censor the internet for 420 million gay people worldwide.’
CITC also objected to 31 other proposed new generic top-level domains, including .virgin, .wine, .bar, .baby, .tatto, .africamagic and .islam.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates internet addresses, is in the process of determining which new generic top-level domains will be allowed.
Objections to these top-level domain names must be submitted to ICANN by 26 September.