The Pakistani publishing house for the International New York Times censored the front-page photograph of yesterday’s issues of the newspaper which featured a Chinese man kissing his boyfriend on the cheek.
The Washington Post reports that The Express Tribune, which partners with and publishes the international edition of the New York Times in Pakistan, believed that the kiss between the two men challenging China’s prohibition on same-sex marriage was too much for local readers.
Kamal Siddiqi, editor of the Express Tribune, said his newspaper has an understanding agreement with the New York Times that it can refuse to publish articles or photographs that “may cause problems locally.”
“You will not see a picture in Pakistan of men kissing,” Siddiqi said. “In fact, you will not see a picture of anyone kissing.”
— Declan Walsh (@declanwalsh) January 29, 2016
Siddiqi has defended his actions in an email sent to a representative of the New York Times, stating that Islamist militants target Pakistani journalists suspected of “pursuing a Western agenda.”
I am as much opposed to the censorship as you all are. However, as editor of the Express Tribune, which has over 200 staffers and brings out editions in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar, I am also mindful of the danger and the lives we can put at risk if we decide to print some of these articles.
I wish we could do a fraction of the work that the NYT does and we hold it as the standard to aspire towards. But please understand that the on-ground reality is vert different for us.
Homosexuality is still a crime in Pakistan, although experts have said that prosecutions are extremely rare. Despite this, a public debate on the subject looks unlikely to take place in the coming years.