China's Weibo backtracks on gay content ban after #IAmGay protests

LGBT community fumes as Weibo, China's version of Twitter, decides to ban gay content

On Friday, Sina Weibo - a microblogging platform with almost 400 million active users, often described as China's Twitter - announced a "clean-up campaign" that would be removing "illegal" content, including "manga and videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence, or (related to) homosexuality".

One of the largest social media platforms in China, often compared in format to Twitter, Weibo announced on Friday that it would be removing LGBTQ-related content in order to "create a sunny and harmonious community environment".

In response, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates poured online to criticise the decision using hashtags, open letters and even calls to dump Sina shares.

The app was said to have a around 200 million users and was shut down for what the government claimed as vulgar content.Its closure had also led to protests and its users had taken to honking their horns in unison at traffic intersections as a sign of protest.In 2017 according to the State News Agency Xinhua, China shut as many as 128,000 websites that contained obscene and other "harmful" information. Weibo did not respond to a request for comment.

She also made special mention of the ruling Communist Party's official masthead, the People's Daily, which published an essay on Sunday admonishing the newly-imposed internet regulation that groups homosexuality with sexual abuse and violence under the banner of "abnormal sexual relationship". The growth around the world in support for gay rights has also given the Chinese strength'.

"The problem with the policy is that it equates LGBT content with porn", Xiao said, according to Reuters.

Thousands of Weibo users protested a three-month "clean-up campaign" that would have targeted LGBT content along with other subjects deemed obscene. Just that it has no clear idea how to deal with the issue.


"Social media used to be an open space, but in the previous year things have started to change".

See also a report in Foreign Policy by Joanna Chiu past year in which she looked at the ways Chinese tech and advertising firms are trying to court the gay market. The hashtag "I am gay" was posted about 170,000 times last weekend, before Weibo eventually chose to ban it from the platform.

"I feel totally surprised and touched", The Gay Voice founder Hua Zile, told CNN.

Hao Kegui, one such writer, came out as a lesbian in an open letter published on social media past year where she describes how she had felt pressured into marrying a man to please her parents.

University of Queensland student Ting Ting Liu - an gay-rights activist in China for a decade before moving to Australia to study for a PhD in digital technology and sexuality - told Fairfax Media, the reversal would be hailed as a triumph for the movement.

"I worry the censorship will cause more people to just live in the closet and never come out".

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