Weibo backflips on gay content purge

Weibo backflips on gay content purge

Weibo which has around 350 million monthly users in China has on Friday announced an online clean-up campaign in which it planned to target content related to pornography, violence and and homosexuality.

Many activists say they are concerned that Mr. Xi's tightening grip on the internet will dampen a thriving online culture that they say binds the gay community together.

Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown reports from Beijing.

The decision seemed to be a response to efforts by the Chinese government previous year to crack down on web content.

They protested the move by posting selfies with the words "I am gay" followed by rainbow-colored emoticons.

Also targeted are "violent video games, like 'Grand Theft Auto, '" as the Weibo official admin account gave as an example in its announcement.

The decision sparked outrage in the Chinese LGBT community, with activists taking to social media to condemn the microblogging website with the hashtags #IAmGay and #IAmGayNotAPervert.

Weibo claims to have removed more than 56,000 pieces of content, with 108 user accounts deleted as of yesterday.

"I've been casting for a new gay film and many actors are anxious about being blacklisted if they get involved", he said.

According to Sky, the wave of censorship was part of a three-month plan to "create a bright and harmonious community environment" in accordance with a draconian cybersecurity law passed a year ago, with Weibo officials saying they would also delete violent or pornographic content.

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Another much-repeated post was from a Shanghai woman with a gay son who accused Weibo management of "discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority".

"It's easy to aggravate the public's discrimination against sexual minorities", said Mr. Ma, referring to Weibo's announcement.

The Cybersecurity Law doesn't mention LGBT issues, and the Chinese Psychiatric Association in 2001 removed homosexuality and bisexuality from their list of illnesses. In mainland China, inhumane and scientifically debunked tactics like "forced confinement, medication and even electric shock therapy" are still sometimes used in attempts to "convert" LGBTQ people to heterosexuality, per the Washington Post, and this practice is legal.

The report also found that more than half of them were discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.

"Given the tightening control on media and also social media content, we are very anxious that the online space for people to discuss LGBT issues will be even more limited in the future".

The LGBT community in China also pushed back last July when Weibo censored videos of same-sex couples.

Last month it pulled the Oscar-winning film "Call Me by Your Name" from the ongoing Beijing International Film Festival.

Social media is a key "battle ground" where LGBT advocates take on conservative celebrities who dish out popular dating advice, such as saying that the best couples marry early, produce sons and are straight, according to Xiao Tie, head of the Beijing LGBT Center.

"The response shows that we LGBT people in China are slowly realizing our rights", Hua said.

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