A front-page story on The New York Times' international edition has been censored in Pakistan due to its depiction of a gay couple kissing.
The local publisher of the International New York Times, the Express Tribune, removed the image of the Chinese couple who had been profiled by the newspaper because of their lawsuit challenging the lack of marriage rights for same-sex couples in China.
The blank image was accompanied by a caption stating, "This picture was removed by our publishing alliance in Pakistan. The International New York Times and its editorial staff had no role in its removal".
Editor of the Express Tribune, Kamal Siddiqi, told the Washington Post that his newspaper has a long-standing agreement with the New York Times and that it can refuse to publish articles or photographs that “may cause problems locally”.
“You will not see a picture in Pakistan of men kissing,” Siddiqi said.
“In fact, you will not see a picture of anyone kissing.”
New York Times Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh, who previously reported on Pakistan for 11 years, published a photo of the newspaper's front page on Twitter, writing "Higher than the mountains, deeper than the seas, nowhere to be seen: The Express Tribune censors China story in Pakistan".
The photographer who took the image also tweeted his disappointment in discovering the image had been removed.
“Pakistan doesn’t like gay love. My pic on INYT today’s front page censored," he wrote.
Homosexual acts are technically illegal in Pakistan - influenced by a mix of the British colonial-rule penal code and elements of Sharia law.
This is the second time this month that the Express Tribune has censored the front page of the International New York Times. A piece on the murder of secular bloggers was removed in early January.