China's Weibo to ban gay, violent content from microblogging platform

"Weibo.com was flooded over the weekend with the hashtags "#I'mGay" and "#I'mGayNotaPervert" after the Twitter-like platform said that cartoons and short videos with pornographic, violent or gay subject matter would be investigated over a three-month period.

The microblogging service, which boasts almost 400 million active users, had vowed Friday to remove all gay-themed cartoons and videos - along with pornographic and violent material - to comply with Chinese laws and regulations. "Weibo finally withdrew its wrong decision". Businesses have been targeting the so-called pink economy of the LGBT community. Participants chanted slogans including "we have rainbows and courage" on the route, they said.

Weibo's announcement came amid an intensifying government effort to rein in the country's fast-growing social media networks to create what President Xi Jinping has promised to be "a clean cyberspace". In January, authorities ordered Sina Weibo to shut several portals, as part of the government's efforts to eliminate "vulgar" or "harmful" online content.

On Saturday, "The Gay Voice", a popular Weibo page devoted to gay rights issues and gay art, announced to its 230,000-plus followers that it would suspend posting due to an "event of force majeure".

Hua said a Weibo manager told him to stop posting while the "cleanup" was to take place.

"Seven years ago, not that many people were willing to make their voices heard this way", he added. "It's wonderful to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

A third said: "Although I still don't like you, I thank you".

Much of the homosexual content on Weibo is fuelled not by LGBT activists, who are quite low-profile, but by the large online community of "funu" ("rotten girls") - heterosexual women who are avid fans of male gay romances and share comics or stories, frequently erotic.

Weibo's move comes as China continues to tighten its control over the internet, punishing not only political offenses but also entertainment it deems unwholesome.

But Weibo's crackdown backfired after tens of thousands of users protested against the LGBT ban under the hashtag "I am gay".

Many posted selfies with the words "I am gay not a pevert", followed by a chain of rainbow emoticons. "Censorship leads to self-censorship - and that's the worst outcome".

New York Times quoted a local Chinese newspaper The People's Daily which carried an article saying that being gay or bisexual was "not a disease" but it added that gay people needed to "take on their own social responsibilities while advocating their rights".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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