China protest against Weibo's cleanup campaign

Chinese flag with rainbow flag

Chinese flag with rainbow flag

Users of China's Sina Weibo, a microblogging site in the vein of Twitter are fighting back against the site's announcement that it will begin a three-month "cleanup" to remove/censor LGBT and violent content.

"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.

On Monday, Weibo said the clean-up would no longer target gay content.

"I've been casting for a new gay film and many actors are anxious about being blacklisted if they get involved", he said.

The investigation will instead "primarily focus on pornographic and violent material", Weibo's statement said. "Thank you for your discussion and suggestions".

The company previously said that it was acting in accordance with China's cybersecurity laws. It was the latest of new measures imposed by President Xi Jinping's government to tighten control over what China's public can see and say online while still trying to reap the economic benefits of internet use.

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While homosexuality is not illegal in the country, there is a strong conservative mindset which the government often pushes.

China's internet censors previously announced intentions to ban gay content from the internet. He said Weibo's response showed a gradual change in attitudes toward gay people. In addition to gay people, the country's liberals who were enraged by the crackdown also made their voices heard.

"I feel totally surprised and touched", Hua Zile, founder of the Weibo page as well as the NGO that bears the same time, told CNN on Monday. He complied, and his announcement that Voice for China LGBT would be going on hiatus was shared almost 40,000 times.

"Like China, which has developed so quickly in such a short time, sex education in the country is a work in progress", he said. In mainland China, inhumane and scientifically debunked tactics like "forced confinement, medication and even electric shock therapy" are still sometimes used in attempts to "convert" LGBTQ people to heterosexuality, per the Washington Post, and this practice is legal. While the marathon was planned months in advance, the organizer, Lucas Chen, said Weibo's announcement gave it "added significance".

The crackdown also spurred people to speak out in real life.

In a possible sign of internal government division on the issue, the People's Daily - the Communist Party's mouthpiece - on Sunday published a widely shared commentary on its social media platforms, reaffirming the diversity of sexual orientations and the importance of non-discrimination. The new laws, introduced in June a year ago, lump homosexuality in with sexual abuse and violence as constituting "abnormal sexual relationships".

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