Weibo's Purge of Gay-themed Content Sparks Online Outrage

Weibo's Purge of Gay-themed Content Sparks Online Outrage

The main targets initially included pornographic, violent and gay-themed cartoons, pictures, videos and articles, as well as content such as "slash, gay, boys love and gay fictional stories", a notice posted by Sina Weibo's administration account said.

The decision to clamp down on "gay" content had stoked fears of censorship of the LGBT community in China, which has already been under pressure for some time.

One commenter said: "You say you want to seal my mouth".

The hashtag #IAmGay trended on Chinese social network Sina Weibo after censors launched a crackdown on "illegal" content including media supposedly "related to" homosexuality, Sky News reported on Saturday. The posting was viewed almost 6.5 million times.

In a possible sign of internal government division on the issue, the People's Daily - the Communist Party's mouthpiece - on Sunday published a widely shared commentary on its social media platforms, reaffirming the diversity of sexual orientations and the importance of non-discrimination.

"Everyone is unique and sexuality is just one side of us that differs, just like skin color, height and weight", the essay said. The new laws, introduced in June previous year, lump homosexuality in with sexual abuse and violence as constituting "abnormal sexual relationships".

"I feel totally surprised and touched", Hua Zile, the page's founder told CNN on Monday in response to the rule reversal.


This week, news and online content portal Toutiao, which is luring investors, was forced to pull a joke sharing app after a watchdog denounced its "vulgar and improper content".

"Through everyone's unrelenting efforts, we finally got a basic right - how rare!" wrote another.

On Monday it was back online and thanking supporters, saying: "Only by speaking up can we affect change". "But today ... I suddenly [find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority".

The post drew more than 24,000 comments, was forwarded more than 110,000 times, and prompted users to protest against the decision, using the hashtag "I am gay".

"The problem with the policy is that it equates LGBT content with porn", Xiao said, adding that she believes the government is not actively anti-LGBT, it just has no clear idea how to deal with the issue.

Homosexuality has not been criminalised in China since 1997, yet as the Economist explains, Chinese officials are far from amenable to assertions of rights by any societal group and even went so far as to ban "the depiction of homosexuals on television - not that there were many in the first place".

China has a mixed track record with gay themes in cultural products. Late last month, the state-backed Beijing International Film Festival abruptly cut the Oscar-winning gay romance Call Me by Your Name from its lineup.

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