McDonald's Blocks Gay Websites in New Zealand

News sources in New Zealand have reported that McDonald's may be actively censoring gay and lesbian online content in the country. The fast food chain's Wi-Fi network has come under attack from New Zealand's gay community for its apparent blocking of gay websites in their restaurants. On January 9, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation sent representatives to McDonald's domestic branches to test the claims and found that the list of banned websites included GayNZ, PFLAG, and Rainbow Youth.

According to New England's Bay Windows, McDonald's responded to the negative media attention by making Rainbow Youth and PFLAG accessible again, but remained firm on blocking GayNZ due to its adult content. This has sparked further reactions among media outlets, including suggestions of McDonald's harboring a homophobic agenda. In the New Zealand Press, an op-ed writer elaborated:

McDonald's has erred badly in its definition of what is 'family friendly.' Had the company confined itself to blocking pornographic sites, regardless of the sexual orientation of the content, this would have been acceptable... But the company has gone too far by blocking websites such as GayNZ, Rainbow Youth and Agender, which are aimed at and provide support for gays or transgender people."

Although McDonald's continues to justify its actions by referring to company policy of keeping restaurants and their subsequent Wi-Fi network "family friendly," some continue to question the validity of their response. In the words of Dan Satherley of 3 News in New Zealand:

"But in a day and age when even Facebook is afraid to host breastfeeding support groups, it's perhaps inevitable McDonald's' attempt to keep a family-friendly image would veer into absurdity."

For more information, visit New Zealand's 2010 Country Profile.