Sarah and I were at a loose end the other night, on the occasion of our seven year anniversary. We sat in Coffee Republic, drinking cups of tea, wondering what to do with our evening. Tired and unmotivated, neither of us were up for much, but thought we’d check out what was on at the theatre or the cinema that night. We remembered the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival had just started, right over the river from where we sat. As it happened, Coffee Republic offered 10 free minutes on their internet connection with every purchase. We duly claimed our ticket and set about looking for listings information.
After a short fight with the user interface I did a search for the National Film Theatre, and clicked on the link. Access was denied as the site met criteria on an exclusion list. Strange. Let’s try the film festival site. Access denied. Let’s try typing the NFT url direct. Access denied. Maybe the system is broken. But searches are working. Let’s go to the BBC site. That worked, and we found basic information about the festival but all links to more information (off the BBC site) were denied. It appears very much as if Coffee Republic’s internet cafe service is denying access to sites that include the word gay or lesbian. This seems a little robust to me. I was doing nothing immoral illegal or even slightly dubious. I just wanted to know what was on at the cinema. Sure, deny access on “gay porn”, but not on perfectly innocent sites that just happen to be about my lifestyle.
I’ll be writing to them to complain.
In the end, tiredness got the better of us and we ended up at home with a video and plans to celebrate in style at the weekend.