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Censorship suits at Google-owned video platform YouTube have angered the global LGBTQ+ community by age-restricting a World AIDS Day video featuring It’s a Sin actor Nathaniel Hall, Jimmy Somerville and Erasure. With a running time of just under ten minutes, 27000@25: When We Were Boys celebrates the release of 27,000 red balloons at Pride 1996 and tells true stories of under-18s living with HIV. Despite this, and seeming to forget that educating young people saves lives, YouTube has banned access to the video for precisely the demographic at which it is aimed. 

Despite lobbying from the producers, OutNewsGlobal and others, YouTube have not yet given a reason for the ban, but we can only assume it’s because it features some intimate scenes between young men. If you’re over 18 (grrrr), you’ll find the video embedded in our original article here. See what you think, but in our view the offending scenes are a million miles away from pornography or depictions of abuse, degradation or violence. In fact, anyone who’s watched a crime drama on ITV or Netflix over the past few years will have witnessed exactly the same level of part-nudity and intimacy, with the significant difference that most such scenes on mainstream platform are between a man and a woman. Go figure.

In further “you couldn’t make it up” news, while the video highlights the need to once and for all end any stigma attached to being HIV+, YouTube’s restrictions serve only to reinforce this stigma. 

Peter Tachell’s Tweet

Speaking exclusively to OutNewsGlobal, Rob Falconer, the video’s producer, said: “With no warning, halfway through World AIDS Day itself, YouTube totally throttled worldwide access (in seven languages) to just the age-group audience the two central stories (one a very much living and inspirational testimonial, diagnosed at 16 yrs age and star of It’s A Sin, Nathaniel Hall) really evidence and address. 

“That appalling mistake cannot now be undone  by YouTube and what gives all impression of being an act of constructive homophobia – World AIDS Day 2021 is past, the window of maximum opportunity to be heard and best focus closed. Hang your heads in shame, YouTube.”

Veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell took to Twitter to accuse the US-giant of “censorship” while others, including NAMaidsmap executive director Matthew Hodson and Frankie Goes to Hollywood from man Holly Johnson also added their voices to the rising clamour.

This is an ongoing and developing story which we will continue to update as the story develops.

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Rob Harkavy

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