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

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

The site said on Friday that it had deleted over 50,000 posts, 100 accounts, and 60 trending topics that fell foul of its vision.

Weibo has fought back by banning the hashtags and taking down some 150,000 related comments, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Weibo, often referred to as "China's Twitter", issued new guidelines last Friday saying that it would begin deleting all gay-themed cartoons and videos, along with violent and pornographic material.

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. Weibo also said that 56,243 violations had already been "cleared" at the time of the notice.

Sina said the campaign was to ensure that the company was in line with online content regulations released in June a year ago that lump homosexuality in with sexual abuse and violence as constituting "abnormal sexual relationships".

Chinese authorities have embarked on a campaign in recent years aimed at purging internet content that it deems inappropriate.

The ban on gay content is considered by many as yet another sign of stigmatization against LGBT people in China, more than a decade after the country removed homosexuality from an official list of mental illness. However, many in the LGBT community still face pressure from parents, discrimination at work, and limited exposure in media and the arts.

Some tried testing the ban and uploaded pictures of themselves with partners or gay friends or relatives.

Image copyright Pu Chunmei Image caption Ms Pu posted this picture with the caption: "Be yourself, don't hide". The article said 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". "But today ... I suddenly [find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority". While some posts were censored, the hashtag that translates to #Iamgaynotapervert was viewed more than 1.35 million times. "Instead, we're going to focus on clearing out pornographic and violent content. Thank you for the discussion and suggestions".

Netizens cheered the reversal.

On Monday, Sina backtracked and said the clean-up would no longer target homosexual content. The move represents a rare, possibly unprecedented, win for China's nascent LGBT rights movement.

While homosexuality is not illegal in China and few Chinese have religious objections to it, a traditional, conservative preference for conventional marriage and childbearing creates barriers for LGBT people.

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