China has banned homosexual content on social media platform Weibo and users are not taking it lying down.
The “clean-up” was announced on April 13, and included the censorship of “bloody violence”, cartoon, images, as well as homosexual and pornographic material, according to independent site What’s on Weibo.
The site also reported that a total of 56,243 related violations were erased by the time the notice was published.
Hours later, the “I Am Gay” hashtag went viral on the social media site in open protest of the new guidelines. Several variations of the slogan popped up too, including “I am breaking the law”, and #Iamgaynotapervert.
One commenter said: “You say you want to seal my mouth. But I know all you can seal is my account.”
As the hashtag leaked over to Twitter, social media users from other countries chimed in.
In a shameful move, the Chinese Twitter-like platform #Weibo has banned all LGBT content. This blatant act of homophobic censorship has not gone unanswered, with thousands posting the hashtag #IAmGay #我是同性恋 (since deleted).
— Adam Long (@adamlong80) April 15, 2018
weibo in china has started blocking accounts of lgbt. now everywhere people are using the hashtag #Iamgay (in mandarin, obviously)
happy that there is solidarity and resistance
I can only repeat that china is turning into north korea with iphones
— submono (@_submono) April 15, 2018
I support #我是同性恋. Sexuality doesn’t care what country you’re from.
— Nick Bell (@MrBehemo) April 14, 2018
Along with the hashtags, various images of rainbows were also uploaded to express support for the LGBT community.
— Linky Cao (@LinkyCao) April 15, 2018
— Wai² (@Awalkinthedalk) April 14, 2018
Weibo has fought back by banning the hashtags and taking down some 150,000 related comments, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.
The official Sina Weibo account states that the new guidelines were implemented to “fulfill corporate responsibility” and to “create a bright and harmonious community environment”.
This isn’t the first time the micro-blogging site has restricted homosexual content.
In 2017, the Chinese authorities issued a cybersecurity law that banned “displays of homosexuality” from audio-visual content on China’s video platforms, along with other perverse content like incest and sexual violence.