China's Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo reverses gay content censorship

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

Now the "Cleaning Up" campaign only targets vulgar and violent contents.

While homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997 and there is a growing awareness of LGBT issues in the country, with lively gay scenes springing up in big cities and gay pride parades beginning to emerge, China has no laws protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, had said on Friday that it meant to keep the site clear of postings containing homosexual content.

Weibo, a "microblogging" site which operates in a similar way to Twitter, said the campaign would last three months and would create a bright and harmonious community environment.

China's online space has come under increasingly tighter control.

"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.

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".

Many posted selfies with the words "I am gay", followed by a chain of rainbow emoticons.

"I am gay and I'm proud, even if I get taken down there are tens of millions like me!" wrote one user who went by the handle "rou wan xiong xiong xiong xiong".

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. "But today ... I suddenly [find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority".

A large number of the posts were subsequently removed. "I'm born with it". The widely discussed "gay moment" in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast was allowed to run uncensored in Chinese cinemas a year ago, and state newspaper The People's Daily even celebrated the decision on Weibo, posting: "Controversial gay moment kept in Disney's #BeautyAndTheBeast. requires no guidance for minor audience".

The crackdown also spurred people to speak out in real life. The event had in fact been planned and approved by local authorities before the Weibo ban was announced, but it took on greater meaning as a result of the crackdown, organizers said in a Weibo post (link in Chinese)."This is the kind of day worth remembering for a lifetime", they wrote, adding that Weibo shut down the event's live stream. "We must pressure these companies and show them it's not easy to discriminate against an entire community - no matter who orders them to do it".

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