Weibo bans gay content as part of 'clean-up'

Weibo says the three-month campaign will target 'illegal&apos gay and violent content

Weibo bans gay content as part of 'clean-up'

Further, a large number of user accounts and social media pages have been deleted for showcasing prohibited content.

The outcry reflects a fear that growing censorship tends to ban all gay content as "dirty", a setback for efforts to carve out an online space of tolerance for homosexuality in China's traditionally Confucian society, LGBTQI+ advocates say.

Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, had said on Friday that it meant to keep the site clear of postings containing homosexual content.

Weibo - comparable to Twitter - has 392 million active monthly users, and a three-month campaign is now underway to help create what the company describes as a "clean and harmonious community environment" in accordance with China's "laws and regulations such as the Cyber Security Law". By late Friday, the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert had gone viral on the service, with users posting photos with their partners, angry comments and rainbow emojis. 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". While the marathon was planned months in advance, the organizer, Lucas Chen, said Weibo's announcement gave it "added significance".

One post in protest of the ban received more than 55,000 likes.

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.

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Despite ham-fisted attempts to censor the LGBT community online, China is fast becoming the centre of the gay hook-up world.

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

"I am the mother of a gay person", a Shanghai woman named Mei wrote in a post on the social network, which was shared 11,000 times.

"The response shows that we LGBT people in China are slowly realizing our rights", Hua said. These procedures occurred in some public, government-run hospitals and in private clinics, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

"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. Still, some said the company owed gays an apology.

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

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