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Happy Pride Month: Facebook Blocks The Schwules Museum Berlin

11. June 2021

Update, 2:30 PM: The Facebook page of the Schwules Museum is online once again after a successful appeal against the temporary suspension.

Berlin. On Thursday, Facebook blocked temporarily the page of the Schwules Museum (Gay Museum, or SMU). The social media giant thus penalized the museum in Berlin for a planned, as yet unpublished post featuring photographs by South African artist Zanele Muholi. The photographs depict nude Black women, and do not contain depictions of genitalia or sexual acts.

That was enough to set Facebook’s censors off. After Facebook initially flagged the post, scheduled for next Monday, as violating “community standards on depictions of nudity,” the museum’s entire account was set to “not public.” The museum was given the opportunity to complain via an automated form, but the page was no longer even accessible for administrators by that evening.

“For us, this decision is both a disaster and a scandal,” says SMU spokesman Daniel Sander. “Around the world, companies show solidarity with the LGBTIAQ+ community on the occasion of Pride month – and the largest social network takes away the voice of the Gay Museum because of the representation of queer art by a Black photographer.”

For now, he said, the museum has no choice but to wait and see if Facebook reverses its decision. According to Sander, direct communication is not possible: “They haven’t even sent us an email yet.”

The Schwules Museum was founded in 1985 as the first of its kind in the world to provide a home for the history and culture of gay men. Since then, it has opened up to the entire LGBTIAQ+ community and become an internationally recognized center of excellence for the study, preservation and presentation of the culture and history of queer people and sexual and gender diversity.

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