News that one of China's leading social
media sites would remove “homosexual” content sparked a storm of
online protests over the weekend under the hashtag “I am gay.”
Sina Weibo, which is similar to Twitter
and has 400 million active monthly users, announced its “clean-up
campaign” to remove “illegal” content on Friday. The site said
that it would remove “manga [comics] and videos with pornographic
implications, promoting violence or [related to] homosexuality.”
The site said its campaign was in
response to stricter cybersecurity laws enacted last year by
President Xi Jinping, The
New York Times reported.
Angry users said that the campaign was
another example of the discrimination lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender people face every day in China.
They protested the move by posting
selfies with the words “I am gay” followed by rainbow-colored
On Monday, Weibo announced that it was
“The clean-up campaign will not
target homosexual content, as it is intended to focus on cleaning up
pornographic and violent content,” the
Up until 1997, being gay was a crime in
China, and conservative attitudes toward sexual minorities remain
Chen Du, an LGBT rights activist, said
that the campaign would make coming out more difficult for young
“People who are ready to come out are
going to be pushed back to where they used to be, faced with pressure
and helplessness,” he said.
President Xi's law gives the government
the power to punish Internet companies that publish content it deems
unsafe or offensive.