'I Am Gay' Goes Viral After Chinese Site Weibo Censors LGBT Content

'I Am Gay' Goes Viral After Chinese Site Weibo Censors LGBT Content

The three-month clearance campaign was meant to "further make a clean and harmonious community environment" based on "laws and regulations, such as the Cyber Security Law", Weibo had said.

The affair has highlighted the cultural gap between younger Chinese more open to LGBT issues and "China's older generation - mostly very conservative 40-year-old men - who are now the main force of our society because they control the resources", Xiao Tie, director of the Beijing LGBT Center, told AFP, using a nickname.

Thousands of Weibo users protested a three-month "clean-up campaign" that would have targeted LGBT content along with other subjects deemed obscene.

Shortly after the Friday announcement went up, the site was flooded with posts decrying the censorship and expressing support for the LGBT community.

In response, outraged Weibo users posted photos with their partners, comments, and rainbow emojis, accompanied by the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert. The widely discussed "gay moment" in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast was allowed to run uncensored in Chinese cinemas previous year, and state newspaper The People's Daily even celebrated the decision on Weibo, posting: "Controversial gay moment kept in Disney's #BeautyAndTheBeast. requires no guidance for minor audience".

The "clean-up" was announced on April 13, and included the censorship of "bloody violence", cartoon, images, as well as homosexual and pornographic material, according to independent site What's on Weibo. In the post, the author wondered why China, as the world's second-largest economy, "can't be inclusive of two sexualities". The posting was viewed almost 6.5 million times.

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Many posted selfies with the words "I am gay not a pevert", followed by a chain of rainbow emoticons.

On Monday it was back online and thanking supporters, saying: "Only by speaking up can we affect change". And few minutes later, they delete them, our articles, our statement, disappear in few minutes.

The decision to clamp down on "gay" content had stoked fears of censorship of the LGBT community in China, which has already been under pressure for some time.

By Sunday the Global Times weighed in, with an item encouraging tolerance toward LGBT people while drawing a line for "vulgar" content that must be removed. These procedures occurred in some public, government-run hospitals and in private clinics, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

"The problem with the policy is that it equates LGBT content with porn", Xiao said on Sunday, adding that she believes the government is not actively anti-gay, just that it has no clear idea how to deal with the issue. "Gay people who would not have spoken out years ago are now letting their voices be heard".

The official People's Daily in a Saturday opinion piece published on Weibo (link in Chinese) said that "it is common sense to respect people's sexual orientation" and that "being gay is not a mental disease". "It's unbelievable to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

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