Weibo Reverses Brief Ban on LGBT Content

Weibo Reverses Brief Ban on LGBT Content

Weibo Reverses Brief Ban on LGBT Content

"I was surprised that the rule turned out to be very abrupt, and many from the LGBT circle have immediately taken action to work on solutions", said Martin Yang, director of the non-governmental organization (NGO) China AIDS Walk.

He said he hoped to share the video before it was too late.

The site said its aim was to promote a "clear and harmonious" environment and to comply with stricter cybersecurity laws put in place by President Xi Jinping.

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

Outraged Weibo users fought back by posting pictures with their partners, rainbow emojis and statuses including the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert. My son and I love our country.

In the past few days, a blog post (link in Chinese) with the title translated as "HelloSina scum, I am gay" went viral on social-networking app WeChat, even though the original post and its reposts have been deleted numerous times. She wrote that "Sina Weibo has discriminated against a minority group by associating gay people with pornography and violence".

It also thanked the public for "discussions and suggestions".

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China's Weibo, the popular Twitter-like microblog site, has said it will not suppress LGBT content as planned, following a public outcry.

The "clean-up" was announced on April 13, and included the censorship of "bloody violence", cartoon, images, as well as homosexual and pornographic material, according to independent site What's on Weibo. But Beijing's official stance towards depictions of homosexuality in the media is repressive, if inconsistently enforced.

Last month it pulled the Oscar-winning film "Call Me by Your Name" from the ongoing Beijing International Film Festival. There are similarly no laws banning discrimination on the basis of sexual identity.

Yet exceptions have occasionally been made. The move sparked so much public backlash that Sina Weibo reversed its decision Monday, according to a statement posted online. Barry Jenkin's gay-themed Oscar Moonlight was similarly allowed to stream previous year on iQiyi, a local Netflix-like platform.

The official People's Daily in a Saturday opinion piece published on Weibo (link in Chinese) said that "it is common sense to respect people's sexual orientation" and that "being gay is not a mental disease".

Monday's reversal was met with an outpouring of support.

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. "It's wonderful to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

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