China's Weibo bans LGBTQ content, takes it back after huge outcry

China's Weibo bans LGBTQ content, takes it back after huge outcry

Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, has reversed a ban on homosexual content after the LGBT community accused the company of unfairly grouping gay content with violence and pornography. While it claimed support for the diversity of sexual orientations, it also warned against using gay themes to create provocative content. "Homosexuals are also ordinary citizens", it said.

"They targeted the entire LGBT community in that notice", he added.

The censorship of other content deemed offensive, which the company said included "violent video games, like Grand Theft Auto", will continue as planned.

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.

On Monday, Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, reversed their decision to censor gay content over the next three months, after facing backlash from the LGBT community.

In it, a woman wrote: 'I am the mother of a gay son.

Hua Zile, founder of the popular Weibo page "The Gay Voice", told CNN: "Seven years ago, not that many people were willing to make their voices heard this way". One commenter wrote, "The country may be taking another detour, but for many people, it is their life".

Others pointed out homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997 and in 2001 removed from the government's list of mental disorders. Since Friday people had been protesting by using hashtags like #Iamgaynotapervert.

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According to the state-run Global Times, one of the first groups to detect the heavy hand of censorship were users writing fictional gay relationships between Marvel superheroes, such as Captain America and his sidekick Bucky or Asgardian gods Thor and Loki (who are apparently adoptedbrothers).

"My son and I love our country. we are proud to be Chinese!"

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

In the southwestern province of Sichuan, a radio host posted a viral video of LGBT rights activists offering free hugs on a busy street while wearing rainbow-printed eye masks.

On Monday, Weibo said in a post that it would scale back its "cleanup" effort and focus on "pornographic, violent and bloody content" instead of gay material. "Thank you everyone for your discussions and suggestions". Weibo did not respond to a request for comment.

But Wei said that the official stance on gay rights is still "unclear".

Reaction to the about-turn has been positive, with responses ranging from describing it as a "step forward" to calling on Weibo to "never announce discriminatory guidelines again".

Weibo's purge was the latest move in a crackdown by the ruling Communist Party to clear the Chinese internet of any content deviating from its "core values of socialism", while stifling criticism of social norms and established policies.

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