For the third time in the last two years, the Ratings Commission responsible for overseeing published materials commercially available in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has targeted NX Magazine, the local gay publication. Issue #72 was taken out of circulation for three days and finally allowed to be sold only if covered by a protective bag. Initially, no reason was given for this measure. After repeated inquiries by the magazine editors, authorities pointed to pictures of "two men too close to one another" or "kissing each other on the mouth"--images contained in an advertisement for an X-rated video ad included in the magazine--as well as the image of a naked man in the Personals section.
According to NX editors, the Ratings Commission criteria for censorship have never been made public. The secrecy of the criteria leaves publishers in a perpetual condition of uncertainty, and allows wide scope for arbitrary or dicriminatory treatment. Procedures for appeal or for submitting complaints are also not clearly defined. The editors regard this situation as an attack upon their freedom of expression. Moreover, the Comission's regulations caused the editors significant economic damage due to the temporary removal of the magazine from circulation.
Freedom of expression is an essential right protected in numerous international covenants. International law demands that any restrictions on it be both regular--that is, consistent and clearly embodied in law, rather than arbitrary--and necessary to the purposes of a democratic society. The interventions of the Ratings Commission in Buenos Aires are neither. Rather, they target manifestations of a particular identity for discriminatory and profoundly undemocratic treatment. The fact that the interventions are unsystematic and inconsistent exacerbates rather than excuses their abusiveness.
IGLHRC asks for email letters to the concerning authorities requesting:
- That the Rating Commission criteria and procedures - including its rationale for censorship, and citizens' recourses for appeal--be made public, in order to ensure the fair treatment of all citizens and companies involved in the publishing bussiness, as well as to eliminate any suspiction of bias.
- That the Ratings Commission cease targeting gay or lesbian publications, or expressions of other minority identities, and respect the freedom of expression of these populations.
Please email your letters to:
- Mr. Dario Loperfido
- City of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Please, send a copy to the editors of the magazine at:
- NEXO Asociacion Civil