China's Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo reverses gay content censorship

Крупнейшая соцсеть Китая намеревается заблокировать вульгарный контент

In a post via the official Weibo account, the Weibo Community Manager said that starting April 13, the site would "fulfill the corporate responsibility" and comply with Chinese Internet Security Laws by closely policing content for a three-month period.

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 a year ago, with Weibo officials saying they would also delete violent or pornographic content. Last week, authorities, citing "vulgar" content, shut down a long list of popular mobile apps, including one focused on tasteless jokes.

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. As recent as 2016, the state issued a ban to portray homosexual relationships on television dramas and web series (in Chinese). LGBT events are the routine subject of government crackdowns.

Upon the site's announcement of the crackdown on its official administrator's account on Friday, users began commenting on and forwarding the news accompanied by the hashtag "I am gay", according to Reuters. "It's wonderful to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in". He wrote,"If I don't say anything today, there probably won't be any chance to do so in the future".

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The microblogging site, which saw its Nasdaq shares fall on Friday, said in its amended post: "This clean-up of games and cartoons will no longer target gay content".

In one post that was liked some 60,000 times, a woman in Shanghai wrote: "I am the mother of a gay son". At the end of the article, he made his Weibo account public, and chose to come out as gay despite long fears of discrimination. "It can't be changed, and I don't want to change", he wrote.

Chinese LGBT advocates hope to promote gay rights by educating society about sexual preferences and pushing back against traditional pressures to marry and have children. "So it was meaningful that people online were also bravely speaking out and showing that they were not defeated by negativity". Hundreds of people participated in a pride run event in Nanjing on Saturday (April 14), a day after Weibo's announcement of the ban-a public display of activism that is becoming nearly extinct in China. Numerous dissenting posts complaining about the ban were themselves blocked by Weibo. "They have already harmed us".

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