Metro Weekly

China deletes LGBTQ accounts from social media in new crackdown

WeChat removed accounts for student LGBTQ groups, saying they "violated regulations"

china, lgbtq, wechat
Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

LGBTQ people in China have criticized authorities after dozens of LGBTQ accounts were removed from social media platform WeChat.

A number of student-ran accounts tied to LGBTQ groups on university campuses were blocked and then deleted from the platform without warning, with attempts to visit them producing a message that they had “violated” China’s internet regulations, BBC News reports.

“After receiving relevant complaints, all content has been blocked and the account has been suspended,” the message read.

Many of the accounts had operated for years without issue and had become known to LGBTQ users as places to find support and advocate for equality on campuses.

“Our activities will not stop due to the closure. On the contrary, we hope to use this opportunity to start again with a continued focus on gender and society, and to embrace courage and love,” Fudan University’s Zhihe Society posted on social media platform Weibo.

Tsinghua University’s Wudaokou Purple wrote on Weibo that it was “frustrated” that authorities had deleted “years of hard work.”

According to the BBC, while some were outraged at the removal of the groups, others celebrated their deletion, calling it “about time” that they were deleted.

The U.S. State Department responded to the news, saying it was “concerned” that accounts were removed from WeChat for “merely expressing their views, exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”

Tencent, which owns WeChat, refused to comment when asked about the takedowns.

Feminist activist Xiong Jing told The Guardian that the crackdown on LGBTQ accounts were “a strong signal that the authorities don’t welcome anything that ‘contravenes’ mainstream values.”

“Both feminist and LGBT student organizations are seen as being influenced by western values or manipulated by foreign powers, so: purge them all,” she said. “This is not only homophobia but also political stigma towards non-governmental groups [including students clubs] in a continuous crackdown on civil society in China.”

Same-sex sexual relations have been legal in China since 1997, but the country has remained relatively intolerant of LGBTQ people.

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