China: Outcry forces Sina Weibo to reverse anti-gay 'clean-up' policy

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

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

Sina Weibo, one of Chinas largest social media apps, has reversed a ban on online content "related to homosexuality" after an outcry from the countrys netizens, the media reported on Monday.

But the Twitter-like platform backtracked on Monday, stating on its administrators' official account: "This clean-up of games and manga is no longer directed at homosexual content, but is primarily to clean up pornographic and bloody, violent content".

Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo has begun the process of removing gay content from its platform in order to comply with new laws.

"The clean-up campaign will not target homosexual content, as it is meant to focus on cleaning up pornographic and violent content", the site said in an official post on Monday.

Weibo further justified its actions by saying the aim was to comply with stricter cybersecurity laws put into place a year ago by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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"I am gay and I'm proud, even if I get taken down there are tens of millions like me!" said one poster, according to Reuters.

Weibo's announcement triggered public outrage.

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. The event had in fact been planned and approved by local authorities before the Weibo ban was announced, but it took on greater meaning as a result of the crackdown, organizers said in a Weibo post (link in Chinese)."This is the kind of day worth remembering for a lifetime", they wrote, adding that Weibo shut down the event's live stream.

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

China's LGBT community and their allies responded immediately to the announcement with hashtag campaigns, with the declaration #我是同性恋# (I am gay) reaching almost 300 million views before it was blocked on Saturday.

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Under the new laws, companies like Weibo could be punished or investigated by the government for promoting content deemed "unsafe or offensive", according to the New York Times.

Many posted selfies with the words "I am gay not a pevert", followed by a chain of rainbow emoticons.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that people in China who are LGBT are still being subjected to "treatments", such as forced confinement, medication and electric shock therapy to "convert" them.

This isn't the first time the micro-blogging site has restricted homosexual content.

"The problem with the policy is that it equates LGBT content with porn", Xiao said on Sunday, adding that she believes the government is not actively anti-gay, just that it has no clear idea how to deal with the issue.

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The People's Daily, the official paper of the ruling Communist Party, also appeared to criticize Weibo in a Sunday editorial.

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