'I am gay' protests emerge in China as Weibo bans homosexual content

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"Sina Weibo's original decision simply made no sense - why link homosexuality with other illegal activities", said leading LGBTQ rights advocate Xiaogang Wei.

That announcement was quickly followed by fans of the page sharing their support by bringing back an old post titled, "I am gay".

This post was syndicated from The Herald Nigeria Newspaper. Now, however, Weibo has felt the pressure of public outcry and backed down saying: "We're no longer targeting gay content". One commenter wrote, "The country may be taking another detour, but for many people, it is their life".

Friday's announcement marked the beginning of a three-month campaign to better monitor comics, games, and short videos, in accordance with national cybersecurity laws. Since Friday people had been protesting by using hashtags like #Iamgaynotapervert.

A popular account by a gay rights group resumed posting today, following a 48-hour suspension. One Beijing company that employed 30 staff who organized events, clubs and meetings for the LGBT community was recently closed down following pressure from authorities.

China has a notorious history with censorship - generally as it involves sex, violence and the portrayal of China itself - but its record on homosexual-themed content and LGBT matters has been mixed.

It also thanked the public for "discussions and suggestions".

A person uses the popular social app Weibo
Chinese social media giant Weibo backs down on 'gay' content ban after mass protest

The investigation will instead "primarily focus on pornographic and violent material", Weibo's statement said.

Chinese society, especially the online space, is adopting a more open attitude towards gay culture, resulting in a vibrant LGBT app scene to serve estimated tens of millions of people in the LGBT community in China. "It's awesome to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

In a post that has since been removed by the site, another user defiantly wrote, "Can't stop the rising rainbow" and included a rainbow emoji.

This was evident in a commentary published Sunday by the People's Daily, the publication controlled by the Community Party.

Weibo's initial announcement received hundreds of thousands of comments and shares, with the majority criticising the decision to clamp down on gay content.

"We are all gay tonight", read a post from the Beijing LGBT Center, featuring photographs of young men and women. The widely discussed "gay moment" in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast was allowed to run uncensored in Chinese cinemas past 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".

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