'I Am Gay' Goes Viral After Chinese Site Weibo Censors LGBT Content

'I Am Gay' Goes Viral After Chinese Site Weibo Censors LGBT Content

Weibo also said that 56,243 violations had already been "cleared" at the time of the notice.

Weibo initially attempted to tamp down the protests by deleting the posts, but by late Monday it had made the decision to reverse course, saying that gay-themed content would no longer be targeted by the "clean-up" effort. The event had in fact been planned and approved by local authorities before the Weibo ban was announced, but it took on greater meaning as a result of the crackdown, organizers said in a Weibo post (link in Chinese)."This is the kind of day worth remembering for a lifetime", they wrote, adding that Weibo shut down the event's live stream.

China's version of Twitter, Weibo, has reversed a ban on gay content after an outcry accused the company of smearing homosexuality by lumping it with pornography as it tried to meet government censorship rules.

China's LGBT community and their allies responded immediately to the announcement with hashtag campaigns, with the declaration #我是同性恋# (I am gay) reaching almost 300 million views before it was blocked on Saturday. Upon the site's announcement of the crackdown on its official administrator's account on Friday, users began commenting on and forwarding the news accompanied by the hashtag "I am gay", according to Reuters. The same hashtag was also viewed almost 300 million times, Reuters reported.

"I am the mother of a gay person", a Shanghai woman named Mei wrote in a post on the social network, which was shared 11,000 times.

Internet users welcomed the change on Monday. "What can we do?"

While homosexuality is not illegal in China and few Chinese have religious objections to it, a traditional, conservative preference for conventional marriage and childbearing creates barriers for LGBT people.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that people in China who are LGBT are still being subjected to "treatments", such as forced confinement, medication and electric shock therapy to "convert" them.

"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.

The official People's Daily in a Saturday opinion piece published on Weibo (link in Chinese) said that "it is common sense to respect people's sexual orientation" and that "being gay is not a mental disease".

"Seven years ago, not that many people were willing to make their voices heard this way", he added. The reference to Weibo's repressive guidelines from Friday prompted a flood of popular support, with users of all backgrounds taking up and retweeting the #iamgay hashtag throughout the weekend. "It's fantastic to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

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