Chinese social media community Sina Weibo has backtracked from a debatable gay content ban after an enormous outcry.
Last Friday the microblogging platform mentioned that posts associated with homosexuality can be taken down.
It caused a deluge of posts from outraged netizens protesting the verdict. On Monday, Sina Weibo mentioned it could opposite the ban.
Often described as China’s resolution to Twitter, Sina Weibo is without doubt one of the hottest social networks within the nation.
What took place?
Last Friday Sina Weibo made a wonder announcement that it was once launching a “clean-up campaign”.
It mentioned that for the following 3 months, the platform would take away content together with photographs, movies, textual content and cartoons that have been associated with pornography, violence, or homosexuality.
“This is to further ensure a clear and harmonious society and environment,” the community mentioned in its remark, including that it had already scrubbed greater than 50,000 posts by way of then.
By early Monday morning, essentially the most censored seek time period on Weibo was once “homosexuality”, in keeping with censorship tracker LooseWeibo.
How did netizens react?
Over the weekend many within the LGBT neighborhood took to the community to protest the verdict, the usage of hashtags comparable to #IAmGay# and #ScumbagSinaHelloIAmGay#.
Some attempted trying out the ban and uploaded footage of themselves with companions or gay pals or relations.
Among them was once LGBT rights activist Pu Chunmei, whose impassioned submit accompanied with footage of her together with her gay son temporarily went viral.
“My son and I love our country… we are proud to be Chinese!” she mentioned. “But today I saw the announcement by Sina Weibo…as a source of news, it is discriminating and attacking minorities, and this is violence!”
Another widely-shared submit was once of an undated video appearing a social experiment the place gay volunteers stood on the street inviting passers-by to hug them. The poster claimed the unique video have been taken down, and mentioned “today I couldn’t help myself but post this again”.
As of early Monday morning, many such posts have been nonetheless on-line, as censors gave the impression to fight to stay alongside of the deluge.
Then Sina Weibo made some other announcement: it mentioned its clean-up would “no longer apply to homosexual content”.
“We thank everyone for their discussion and suggestions,” the corporate added.
Netizens cheered the reversal. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with being homosexual…we hope that Weibo will not perpetrate such discrimination in the future,” mentioned one person.
What was once in the back of the preliminary ban?
China installed position strict web regulations ultimate 12 months, as a part of a much broader ongoing nationwide marketing campaign for a “beautiful internet”.
Sina Weibo mentioned it had initiated the clean-up as a result of those rules. But it didn’t give an explanation for why it was once handiest performing now.
Its preliminary announcement got here simply days after widespread information outlet Toutiao pulled a funny story sharing app and pledged to rent extra censors, after a watchdog accused it of selling “vulgar and improper content”.
What is China’s stance on LGBT rights?
Homosexuality was once decriminalised just about twenty years in the past. Conservative attitudes nonetheless be successful in lots of portions of the rustic, however that has no longer stopped the LGBT neighborhood and activists from having a powerful and colourful presence.
But in fresh months, some started to concern that this presence was once beginning to be curtailed by way of conservative forces.
Some noticed the Sina Weibo ban as a part of a bigger pattern of sidelining the LGBT neighborhood, together with a transfer ultimate 12 months by way of an reputable media watchdog that deemed gay content as “pornographic and vulgar”.
The reputable Chinese executive reaction has at all times been “neither supportive nor against” homosexuality, the place it “does not promote” LGBT rights, activist Li Tingting advised BBC Chinese.
There was once no reputable response from the Chinese executive to Sina Weibo’s preliminary ban, nor to the next reversal.
Reporting by way of Gwyneth Ho.