China's Weibo Reverses Ban On Gay-Themed Content

China's LGBT people came out as a protest against an online ban on gay content. And it worked

The move sparked so much public backlash that Sina Weibo reversed its decision Monday, according to a statement posted online.

Many accounts of the Weibo debacle describe the outcome as stunning to China's powerful censorship apparatus, which does not generally take "no" for an answer.

This post was syndicated from The Herald Nigeria Newspaper.

"The clean-up campaign will not target homosexual content, as it is meant to focus on cleaning up pornographic and violent content", the site said. "So it's useful to protest, even though there's no apology", commented one user on the site. The statement added that the crackdown covers all contents related to "gay" and "danmei (耽美), China's version of what is often called "slash" fiction".

"Weibo's decision on gay content had prompted a tide of protest from outraged users who rallied behind the hashtag "#IamGay", viewed some 240 million times before it was banned by the platform on Saturday.

Gay Voices, which has since 2009 been one of Weibo's major LGBT accounts with some 230,000 followers, had on Friday declared it would be forced to indefinitely suspend its postings. However, many in the LGBT community still face pressure from parents, discrimination at work, and limited exposure in media and the arts.

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. "Gay people who would not have spoken out years ago are now letting their voices be heard".

"I feel totally surprised and touched", Hua Zile, the page's founder told CNN on Monday in response to the rule reversal.

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Weibo said last week it would investigate cartoons and short videos with "pornographic, violent or gay subject matter".

Others cited the Chinese Constitution and its protection of minorities, saying that insult towards citizens is prohibited.

In the southwestern province of Sichuan, a radio host posted a viral video of LGBT rights activists offering free hugs on a busy street while wearing rainbow-printed eye masks.

"We thank everyone for their discussion and suggestions", Weibo officials said, according to the BBC. Weibo said on its website. "It's fantastic to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

Chinese micro blogging site Sina Weibo.

Last year, the authorities removed the lesbian app Rela and the gay dating app Zank from app stores, prompting some to wonder if the move was a part of state censorship of LBGT rights following a ruling in neighboring Taiwan paving the way for same-sex marriages.

The Beijing L.G.B.T. Center said in a post, "We are all gay tonight", alongside photographs of young men and women.

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