Exclusive: Major charity Oxfam blocks staff from accessing gay news sites like PinkNews

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Staff members at aid and development charity Oxfam are blocked from accessing gay news websites such as PinkNews.co.uk.

A staff member at a local branch of an Oxfam charity shop contacted PinkNews to say that she was unable to access the site, as well as Towleroad, a US LGBT news site. She asked PinkNews not to publish the location of the shop or her name.

Speaking to PinkNews, a member of the Oxfam press team confirmed that she was also unable to access some websites, but said it was unclear why such a block was in place.

The firewall page sent by the staff member details the category which is blocked as “Sexuality sites”, and the reason for blocking is because the “content of type= sexuality”.

Benjamin Cohen, the publisher of PinkNews said: “Given that PinkNews regularly reports on the issues affecting LGBT people in the developing world, where Oxfam operates, it is important that its staff are aware of the situation on the ground. It is particularly important for LGBT staff considering postings in these countries to be able to access up-to-date information about the legal and social situation for LGBT people in the developing world.”

Oxfam has since tweeted to say that an “automated firewall”, had “mislabeled”, the site, and that the charity did not have a policy blocking sites like PinkNews.

“Sorry about this. Seems our automated firewall mislabels some sites. It’s definitely not an Oxfam policy and we… wouldn’t block these sites. We’re getting IT to look into this now. Apologies again,” the tweet read.

The charity Oxfam is one of the biggest and most well known charities in the UK, and operates many global campaigns and hundreds of charity-run shops across the country.

Oxfam has has not yet responded to a PinkNews request for a statement on the matter.