By Bailey Vogt on April 17, 2018
Online protests have forced China’s Sina Weibo social network to reverse a proposed cull of LGBTQ-related content on the site.
The microblogging platform — China’s version of Twitter — announced last week that they would be removing content with “pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality” from their site, as part of a three-month clean-up campaign.
This led to users bombarding the site with content hashtagged #IAmGay, protesting Weibo’s categorizing of gay people with pornography and other potentially harmful content.
Thousands shared the announcement, voicing their frustration with Weibo’s proposed censorship.
“I am the mother of a gay son,” one woman wrote. “My son and I love our country. No matter where we go we tell others loudly and proudly that we are from China… I suddenly [find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority.”
The Guardian noted that many pointed Weibo to China’s constitution, which prohibits directly insulting Chinese citizens, and laws that protect minorities.
After the outcry, Weibo announced that they would no longer immediately categorize gay posts as lewd content, but it would still censor violent and pornographic content. “Thank you everyone for the discussion and your suggestions,” Weibo said in a statement.
While China does not criminalize homosexuality, the South China Morning Post reports that some parts of the country still have conservative attitudes which can lead to occasional government discrimination.
This makes the victory on Weibo all the more influential, as People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, wrote an article on Sunday encouraging tolerance toward LGBTQ people in the wake of the social media protest.
Sina Weibo is currently valued at over $25 billion and is one of the most popular websites in China, boasting 400 million users.
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