On Friday, China’s most popular social media platform, Sina Weibo, announced a three month hiatus on content that mentioned homosexuality. Their users were not happy.
The Guardian reports that Weibo has reversed its ban after a long weekend of being bombarded by posts featuring rainbow flag emojis and the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert. Weibo’s original ban announcement had outlawed comics and videos “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality,” conflating all of those concepts into one. Their expressed hope was that the ban would create a “sunny and harmonious community environment.”
Censorship on Weibo has been on the rise, and a number of portals designated as “vulgar” or “harmful” by the government have been shut down. People have also been struggling to circulate their stories about sexual assault under the country’s version of a #MeToo movement. Posts mentioning “anti-sexual harassment” have been blocked and deleted from social media as well.
However, the backlash to this latest encroachment has been heartening to LGBTQ activists, who see it as a sign that the gay community is becoming more open and confident in their identity. Lu Pin, an activist who founded a blog called Feminist Voices, told the Guardian, “China’s gay community continues to push through obstacles. The growth around the world in support for gay rights has also given the Chinese strength.”
Weibo has said in statement that they will now only be focusing on violent or pornographic content for deletion, adding, “Thank you everyone for the discussion and your suggestions.”