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One of China’s biggest social networks reverses decision to ban LGBT content

Weibo’s ban announcement met with firestorm of criticism

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Microblogging platform Weibo says it won’t censor LGBT content -- after criticism from netizens and apparently even Chinese state media.

On Friday, China’s answer to Twitter announced in a post that it would ban a variety of what it called “rule-breaking” comics, games and videos, including “pornographic, violent and homosexual” content.

Homosexuality is not illegal in China. But Weibo’s post appeared to group it among “rule-breaking” subjects -- prompting a furious response from netizens.

“I am bisexual, I don’t want to be banned,” reads this post from Sina Weibo. (Picture: Weibo)

The post attracted over 40,000 comments, with the hashtags “I am gay” and “I am gay, not a pervert” trending on Weibo.

Even Chinese state media appeared to weigh in on the issue. Two days after Weibo’s announcement, a commentary appeared in the People’s Daily supporting LGBT rights -- saying “there isn’t only one kind of sexual orientation.”

But the commentary also reinforced the need to censor pornography and violent content.

On Monday, Weibo changed its mind in a post that curiously seemed to echo the sentiment in the People’s Daily report: LGBT is OK, but pornography and violence is not.

“The clean-up of the platform is no longer targeted at homosexual content but is mainly to clean up the subjects related to pornography and violence. Thank you for your discussion and suggestions,” it says in the latest post.

Weibo’s original post also targeted violent video games. Grand Theft Auto, Mafia and Mercenaries were all specifically cited as being banned, along with any GIFs and short videos of the games.

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