China's Weibo Reverses Ban On Gay-Themed Content

Weibo says the three-month campaign will target 'illegal&apos gay and violent content

One of China's biggest social media companies on Monday reversed a decision to censor gay content - a rare victory for the country's nascent but increasingly vocal LGBT rights movement.

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

According to Sky, the wave of censorship was part of a three-month plan to "create a bright and harmonious community environment" in accordance with a draconian cybersecurity law passed past year, with Weibo officials saying they would also delete violent or pornographic content.

But the decision appears to have been out of touch with the widespread growing social tolerance for LGBT rights in China's major cities.

Another wrote: "I am gay and I'm proud, even if I get taken down there are tens of millions like me".

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.

"I am the mother of a gay son". No matter where we go we tell others loudly and proudly that we are from China. "Thank you everyone for your discussions and suggestions".

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In 2017, the Chinese authorities issued a cybersecurity law that banned "displays of homosexuality" from audio-visual content on China's video platforms, along with other perverse content like incest and sexual violence.

Weibo has fought back by banning the hashtags and taking down some 150,000 related comments, according to German news site Deutsche Welle. But Beijing's official stance towards depictions of homosexuality in the media is repressive, if inconsistently enforced. Late last month, Luca Guadagnino's Oscar-winning romance, Call Me By Your Name, was pulled from the lineup of the Beijing Film Festival with no official reason given for the move.

"It's easy to aggravate the public's discrimination against sexual minorities", said Mr Ma, referring to Weibo's announcement.

Yet exceptions have occasionally been made.

On Sunday, more than 20,000 people marched in a "Rainbow Marathon" in Nanjing to raise awareness of LGBT issues.

Gay Voices, which has since 2009 been one of Weibo's major LGBT accounts with some 230,000 followers, had on Friday declared it would be forced to indefinitely suspend its postings. "Gay people who would not have spoken out years ago are now letting their voices be heard". "It's awesome to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

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