Weibo bans gay content as part of 'clean-up'

Mindy Sparks
Апреля 16, 2018

Weibo claims that it has removed over 56,000 posts and closed over a hundred accounts involving "illegal" content.

Chen Du, a gay activist in Guangzhou, said Weibo's campaign would hurt the image of gay people in China and make it more hard for young people to come out.

China's LGBT community and their allies responded immediately to the announcement with hashtag campaigns, with the declaration #我是同性恋# (I am gay) reaching almost 300 million views before it was blocked on Saturday.

"They targeted the entire LGBT community in that notice", Xiaogang Wei, a leading LGBT rights advocate in China, told CNN. 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.

But Weibo's crackdown backfired after tens of thousands of users protested against the LGBT ban under the hashtag "I am gay".

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.

"There can be no homosexuality under socialism?" a Weibo user wrote, according to AFP. The same hashtag was also viewed almost 300 million times, Reuters reported.

One of the most shared posts is from an activist who uploaded a video from a public event where gay people, wearing rainbow-colored eye patches, asked passers-by to give them a hug.

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Some sought refuge on Twitter, where they expressed their displeasure.

On Monday it was back online and thanking supporters, saying: "Only by speaking up can we affect change".

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.

Gay conversion therapy is still used in some public hospitals and private clinics.

LGBT groups spoke out over the plans to group gay-related content with that of a violent or pornographic nature, which Sina Weibo said was being done in response to new cyber-security laws.

The Beijing L.G.B.T. Center said in a post, "We are all gay tonight", alongside photographs of young men and women.

"Seven years ago, not that many people were willing to make their voices heard this way", he added.

The People's Daily, the official paper of the ruling Communist Party, also appeared to criticize Weibo in a Sunday editorial. "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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