NETIZENS in China have put an abrupt stop to social media site Sina Weibo’s plans to ban all material relating to gay culture in what they called a 3-month “clean-up” effort.
The initiative, announced Friday, prompted widespread criticism from internet users who used the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert to highlight their disdain and bombard the social network with photos of gay couples and rainbow emojis.
“I am the mother of a gay son. My son and I love our country,” one woman in Shanghai wrote, as reported by the Guardian. “No matter where we go we tell others loudly and proudly that we are from China … But today … I suddenly [find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority.”
— Erwin Vogelaar 🦄 (@ErwinVogelaar) April 14, 2018
Others cited the Chinese Constitution and its protection of minorities, saying that insult towards citizens is prohibited.
Beijing-based advocacy group PFLAG China on Sunday called on Sina’s shareholders to punish the “evil” acts of the NASDAQ-listed company by “voting with their feet” and selling shares.
While homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997 and there is a growing awareness of LGBT issues in the country, with lively gay scenes springing up in big cities and gay pride parades beginning to emerge, China has no laws protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Rights groups warn that, in a culture that places a high value on filial piety, millions of LGBT people are still forced to live in secret with many marrying heterosexual partners rather than come out as gay.
Gay conversion therapy is still fairly common with many stories of people being forced into facilities for “treatments” aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation.
— Linky Cao (@LinkyCao) April 15, 2018
By Monday, Sina Weibo had backed down and reversed the decision, saying that its clean-up campaign would no longer include gay content and would only focus on pornographic and violent material.
The site said its aim was to promote a “clear and harmonious” environment and to comply with stricter cybersecurity laws put in place by President Xi Jinping. The new laws, introduced in June last year, lump homosexuality in with sexual abuse and violence as constituting “abnormal sexual relationships.”