Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Chinese Social Media Site Reverses Gay Content Ban After Uproar

Weibo says the three-month campaign will target ‘illegal’ gay and violent content Weibo says the three-month campaign will target ‘illegal’ gay and violent content
Patty Aguilar | 16 April, 2018, 18:26

In a quick about face, China's Sina Weibo messaging service has reversed a ban on gay-themed content.

The investigation will instead "primarily focus on pornographic and violent material", Weibo's statement said.

Images of hearts and rainbows with slogans "I am a gay, not a pervert" flooded the streets of China as several people protested against popular online website Weibo for removing all such content from its platform which is deemed to be violent or promoting homosexuality.

"What's transpired in the last 48 hours is enough to prove that only speaking up can bring about changes", it said.

Chen Du, a gay activist in Guangzhou, said Weibo's campaign would hurt the image of gay people in China and make it more hard for young people to come out. In recent years the attitude from authorities has increasingly clashed with the much of the Chinese public, especially youth, who are becoming more tolerant of same-sex relationships.

While homosexuality is not illegal in China and few Chinese have religious objections to it, a traditional, conservative preference for conventional marriage and childbearing creates barriers for LGBT people.

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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". "Otherwise people will talk for a while and then scatter, and we can not change Sina's rules", Lu said.

Hua said a Weibo manager told him to stop posting while the "cleanup" was to take place. "Gay people who would not have spoken out years ago are now letting their voices be heard". He complied, and his announcement that Voice for China LGBT would be going on hiatus was shared almost 40,000 times.

"They targeted the entire LGBT community in that notice", he added. In mainland China, inhumane and scientifically debunked tactics like "forced confinement, medication and even electric shock therapy" are still sometimes used in attempts to "convert" LGBTQ people to heterosexuality, per the Washington Post, and this practice is legal. While the marathon was planned months in advance, the organizer, Lucas Chen, said Weibo's announcement gave it "added significance".

The crackdown also spurred people to speak out in real life.

Then over the weekend, the #IAmGay hashtag went viral, while the official People's Daily in an opinion piece said, "It is common sense to respect people's sexual orientation".

But many users were incensed, saying the campaign was another sign of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in China, more than two decades after the country decriminalised homosexuality.

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