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

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

Sina Weibo, one of Chinas largest social media apps, has reversed a ban on online content "related to homosexuality" after an outcry from the countrys netizens, the media reported on Monday.

An organization under the country's top media regulator listed content related to homosexuality along with incest, sexual assault, and pornography as targets for online censorship in a statement last June.

The Friday, April 13, announcement that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) content would be purged from Sina Weibo proved short-lived.

China's Twitter-equivalent Weibo said on Friday it would remove pornographic, violent or gay videos and cartoons in a three-month campaign, singling out a genre of manga animations and comics that often depict raunchy gay male relationships.

The three-month clearance campaign was meant to "further make a clean and harmonious community environment" based on "laws and regulations, such as the Cyber Security Law", Weibo had said. Upon the site's announcement of the crackdown on its official administrator's account on Friday, users began commenting on and forwarding the news accompanied by the hashtag "I am gay", according to Reuters.

In the past few days, a blog post (link in Chinese) with the title translated as "HelloSina scum, I am gay" went viral on social-networking app WeChat, even though the original post and its reposts have been deleted numerous times. While the marathon was planned months in advance, the organizer, Lucas Chen, said Weibo's announcement gave it "added significance".

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.

Hua Zile, the founder of "Voice for China LGBT", Weibo's first LGBT-themed account, said he was encouraged by the outrage against the site's censorship plan. The posting was viewed almost 6.5 million times.

"There can be no homosexuality under socialism?" a Weibo user wrote, according to AFP.

The site attempted to crack down on the protest by deleting posts and censoring words such as "gay".

Last year, The Washington Post reported that people in China who are LGBT are still being subjected to "treatments", such as forced confinement, medication and electric shock therapy to "convert" them.

"People who are ready to come out are going to be pushed back to where they used to be, faced with pressure and helplessness", he said.

"The problem with the policy is that it equates LGBT content with porn", Xiao said on Sunday, adding that she believes the government is not actively anti-gay, just that it has no clear idea how to deal with the issue.

The official People's Daily in a Saturday opinion piece published on Weibo (link in Chinese) said that "it is common sense to respect people's sexual orientation" and that "being gay is not a mental disease".