Lithuania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine all have explicit prohibitions on the distribution of information about homosexuality to children.
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However, 30 years after George Orwell’s novel 1984 was set, the overuse of internet filters and national agendas also mean that children are often unable to access information about campaigning and politics, and in some countries receive an overtly biased account of history in school textbooks.
The paper launches a new campaign - Protect Children, End Censorship - with which CRIN aims to draw attention to undue restrictions on children’s access to information, emphasise why such restrictions are violations of their rights and call for stronger standards and leadership in this area. In the paper, ", CRIN explains why access to information is vital for children’s enjoyment of their other human rights, including the right to life (e.g.
sex education, including HIV/AIDS), health and protection from violence and exploitation because it allows them to be armed with the knowledge they need to make their own informed choices.
It also highlights disproportionate restrictions on children’s access to information from around the world, before outlining the plethora of rights in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child they violate.
In a country where homosexuality is prohibited by law, the article attracted both praise and condemnation, with 222 comments either defending the writer’s bravery or reiterating the belief that Islam views homosexuality as a sin.
Three days after posting the opinion piece, the Doha News published a reply by another Qatari author, “We do not tolerate homosexuality in Qatar.” The second post attracted 278 comments.“But it underlines the fact that there is still a local segment [of] the population that believes that certain critical controversial subjects should not be discussed in public.” In recent days, the closure of the Doha News has been covered by international news organizations, including the BBC, Reuters, and the Associated Press.In a statement, Amnesty International Deputy Director for Global Voices James Lynch pointed to the irony of the decision to block a news site in a country that already hosts several large broadcasting facilities and the Doha Center for Media Freedom (a nonprofit that promotes quality journalism in Qatar and the Middle East).The sudden inaccessibility of a local news site would not ordinarily attract international media attention.Yet for seven years, the Doha News has been a significant outlier in Qatar: the site is the only reliable source of daily information for residents.Issues covered in the paper include: The paper says: “Disproportionate restrictions on children’s access to information feed into the idea that children are blank canvases to be painted by adults, rather than human beings with rights, views and feelings of their own.