×

China’s Weibo Reverses Ban on LGBT Content

Sina Weibo, China’s leading microblogging platform, has reversed its ban on gay content. The decision, announced Monday, is a rare instance of a Chinese institution bowing to public pressure.

The company’s proposed three-month operation to clean up its site, user groups and user-generated comments will “no longer apply to homosexual content,” Sina said on its site. “We thank you for all your discussions and suggestions.”

At the end of last week, Sina said that it had cleaned up more than 56,000 unregulated posts, closed 108 accounts and removed other discussion topics. It explained that the action was being taken to “further make a clean and harmonious community environment” and is being done “according to laws and regulations such as the Cybersecurity Law.”

Sina said its targets included pornographic, violent or gay-themed cartoons, pictures, videos and articles, as well as such content as “slash, gay, boys love and gay fictional stories.” The notification itself was re-posted more than 20,000 times and sparked a backlash among users. Many users revived the “I am gay” web page and effectively turned it into a hashtag of protest.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997. It ceased to be categorized as a mental illness from 2001. However, whether homosexual content is illegal or not in China is currently a subject of debate.

Popular on Variety

The Beijing International Film Festival last week removed gay-themed “Call Me by Your Name” from its lineup. The prize-winning film had previously been announced as part of its selection.

Last June, China Netcasting Service Association, a non-governmental organization administered by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), banned service providers from releasing programs that “present abnormal sexual relations or behavior.” It put homosexual relations on a list that also included incest, sexual harassment and sexual violence.

In a rare move, filmmaker Fan Chunlin has been granted permission to challenge the ruling in court. Fan has questioned why SAPPRFT categorizes homosexual relations as “abnormal.”

There is an expanding crackdown in China against “decadent” and Western ideas, and an ever-greater promotion of “core socialist values.” One Beijing company that employed 30 staff who organized events, clubs and meetings for the LGBT community was recently closed down following pressure from authorities.

More Digital

  • Activision-Blizzard-Overwatch-League-Grand-Finals-2018

    YouTube Scores Exclusive Streaming for Activision Blizzard's E-Sports, Including Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues

    YouTube landed a multiyear deal as the exclusive live-streaming partner for Activision Blizzard’s e-sports events worldwide, including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, Hearthstone Esports. The agreement (which excludes China) promises to give a big boost to YouTube Gaming, the video giant’s dedicated home for all things related to games. It’s also a loss for [...]

  • Grammy Moments Brandi Carlile John Legend

    What's a Grammy Moment Worth? Brandi Carlile, John Legend, Label Execs Weigh In

    In simpler times, an artist could see album sales spike to over 500,000 in the days after a Grammy Awards broadcast appearance. That was Santana’s experience in 2000. Following a performance on the show and eight Grammy wins, “Supernatural” flew off the shelves — a gold certification from one key look. Today, that seems downright [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Sets Up Italian Office in Rome (EXCLUSIVE)

    After opening its doors in Paris last week, Netflix is setting up an office in Rome, Variety can reveal. The streaming giant has confirmed that it will move its Italian team, which is now based in Amsterdam, to new offices in the Italian capital, where they are currently seeking a space. The process will take [...]

  • Jill Dickerson - Snap

    Snap Taps OWN's Jill Dickerson to Lead Unscripted Programming

    Jill Dickerson has left OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network after more than a decade to join Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, as a senior member of the Snap Originals team. A seasoned reality TV exec, Dickerson will help lead the development of Snap’s docu-series and unscripted programming and is based at the company’s Santa [...]

  • Deadspin - Jim Rich

    Deadspin to Relaunch Under New Editor Jim Rich, Following Mass Staff Resignation

    Deadspin, the irreverant sports news and opinion digital-media brand that has been dormant since last November, is going to get re-spun under newly hired editor-in-chief Jim Rich. G/O Media named the veteran editor and journalist, who formerly served as editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News, executive editor at Huffpost, and night sports editor at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content