Chinese language social media community Sina Weibo has backtracked from a controversial homosexual content material ban after an enormous outcry.
Final Friday the microblogging platform mentioned that posts associated to homosexuality can be taken down.
It prompted a deluge of posts from outraged netizens protesting in opposition to the choice. On Monday, Sina Weibo mentioned it might reverse the ban.
Typically described as China’s reply to Twitter, Sina Weibo is likely one of the hottest social networks within the nation.
Final Friday Sina Weibo made a shock announcement that it was launching a “clean-up marketing campaign”.
It mentioned that for the subsequent three months, the platform would take away content material together with pictures, movies, textual content and cartoons that had been associated to pornography, violence, or homosexuality.
“That is to additional guarantee a transparent and harmonious society and setting,” the community mentioned in its assertion, including that it had already scrubbed greater than 50,000 posts by then.
Sina Weibo mentioned it was initiating the clean-up due to stricter web legal guidelines put in place final 12 months, nevertheless it didn’t clarify why it was solely performing now.
Chinese language authorities have launched into a marketing campaign in recent times aimed toward purging web content material that it deems inappropriate.
By early Monday morning, probably the most censored search time period on Weibo was “homosexuality”, in response to censorship tracker FreeWeibo.
How did netizens react?
Over the weekend many within the LGBT neighborhood took to the community to protest in opposition to the choice, utilizing hashtags similar to #IAmGay# and #ScumbagSinaHelloIAmGay#.
Some tried testing the ban and uploaded photos of themselves with companions or homosexual mates or family members.
Amongst them was LGBT rights activist Pu Chunmei, whose impassioned publish accompanied with photos of her along with her homosexual son shortly went viral.
“My son and I really like our nation… we’re proud to be Chinese language!” she mentioned. “However right now I noticed the announcement by Sina Weibo…as a supply of stories, it’s discriminating and attacking minorities, and that is violence!”
One other widely-shared publish was of an undated video displaying a social experiment the place homosexual volunteers stood on the street inviting passers-by to hug them. The poster claimed the unique video had been taken down, and mentioned “right now I could not assist myself however publish this once more”.
As of early Monday morning many such posts had been nonetheless on-line, as censors appeared to wrestle to maintain up with the deluge.
Then Sina Weibo made one other announcement: it mentioned its clean-up would “not apply to gay content material”.
“We thank everybody for his or her dialogue and options,” the corporate added.
Netizens cheered the reversal. “There’s completely nothing incorrect with being gay…we hope that Weibo is not going to perpetrate such discrimination sooner or later,” mentioned one consumer.
What’s China’s stance on LGBT rights?
Homosexuality was decriminalised greater than 20 years in the past. Conservative attitudes nonetheless prevail in lots of components of the nation, however that has not stopped the LGBT neighborhood and activists from having a robust and vibrant presence.
However in current months, some started to concern that this presence was beginning to be curtailed by conservative forces.
Some noticed the Sina Weibo ban as half of a bigger development of sidelining the LGBT neighborhood, together with a transfer final 12 months by an official media watchdog that deemed gay content material as “pornographic and vulgar”.
The official Chinese language authorities response has at all times been “neither supportive nor in opposition to” homosexuality, the place it “doesn’t promote” LGBT rights, activist Li Tingting instructed BBC Chinese language.
There was no official response from the Chinese language authorities to Sina Weibo’s preliminary ban, nor to the following reversal.
Further reporting by Gwyneth Ho.