China’s Weibo Reverses Ban on Gay Content After Social Media Outcry
Last week, “Chinese Twitter” announced its plan to remove pornography, violent, and gay content.
In a win for China’s LGBT community, Sina Weibo — the “Chinese Twitter” — said on Monday that it would not censor gay content on its platform.
The social media company had announced its plan to remove any LGBT-themed content posted on its platform last week in order to create a “clear and harmonious” environment, the New York Times reported. The measure appeared to be in response to government censorship policies around pornographic and violent material, but was criticized as a harmful conflation of sexual violence and homosexuality.
“The problem with the policy is that it equates LGBT content with porn,” Xiao Tie, head of the Beijing LGBT Center, told Reuters.
Sina Weibo has not commented on whether or not the planned move was the company’s own initiative or a direct response to the government’s censorship policies, Reuters reported.
With 400 million active users, Sina Weibo holds great clout in China, where Twitter and Facebook have been banned since 2009.
Over the weekend, thousands of users shared posts and selfies with statements like “I am gay” and “My mouth can be muted, by my love can’t,” in response to the company’s censorship announcement, according to the New York Times. Many also used a hashtag that translate to #IAmGayNotAPervert.
Hua Zile, founder of the popular Weibo page “The Gay Voice,” told CNN on Monday that he was surprised by the outpouring of support for the LGBT community.
"Seven years ago, not that many people were willing to make their voices heard this way," Hua said. "It's amazing to see this happen now, with everyone — straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people — using the hashtag and joining in."
While homosexuality is not criminalized in China, discrimination and social stigma against LGBT people persists in the country, CNN reported.
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