China’s Weibo Reverses Gay Content Ban in Surprise Win for LGBT Community

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Bowing to a wave of popular backlash, Chinese social media giant Sina Weibo has reversed a briefly instated ban on gay content. The move represents a rare, possibly unprecedented, win for China’s nascent LGBT rights movement.

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Weibo, often referred to as “China’s Twitter,” issued new guidelines last Friday saying that it would begin deleting all gay-themed cartoons and videos, along with violent and pornographic material. The company said the initiative was an effort to “create a sunny and harmonious community environment,” in compliance with Beijing’s cybersecurity laws.

 

However,  the decision appears to have been out of touch with the widespread growing social tolerance for LGBT rights in China’s major cities. By late Friday, the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert had gone viral on the service, with users posting photos with their partners, angry comments and rainbow emojis.

 

In one post that was liked some 60,000 times, a woman in Shanghai wrote: “I am the mother of a gay son. My son and I love our country. No matter where we go we tell others loudly and proudly that we are from China … But today … I suddenly [find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority.”

 

Weibo initially attempted to tamp down the protests by deleting the posts, but by late Monday it had made the decision to reverse course, saying that gay-themed content would no longer be targeted by the “clean-up” effort.

 

“We thank all for your discussions and suggestions,” it said in a brief statement posted to its website.

 

Homosexuality is not illegal in China, and the country’s big cities boast vibrant, semi-open gay scenes.

 

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Photographs are Courtesy:  Sony Classic

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