Today Weibo, China’s biggest social network, announced that over the next three months, it would be censoring videos, cartoons and images related to pornography, violence and homosexuality. But this isn’t a first for homophobic Weibo policies.
The notice, published by the Weibo Community Manager, said the platform was strictly monitoring the content posted for three months, in order to “fulfill corporate responsibility.” The post received over 20,000 comments and 96,000 shares.
Users of the homophobic Weibo platform have been openly critical of the decision. Two hashtags have taken off in response — “I am gay” (#我是同性恋#) and “I am illegal” (#我违法#).
This isn’t the first time LGBT content has been censored in China. On June 30, 2017, the Chinese government banned queer content from the internet. And it’s not just online — the Chinese version of Alien: Covenant cuts the “gay kiss” (it’s actually between actor Michael Fassbender and … himself) from the end of the film. And in 2005 China banned Brokeback Mountain.
The Chinese government, however, doesn’t represent the will of all its people in this case. While a 2013 Pew Research Center survey found only 21% of the Chinese population was in favor of homosexuality, the majority of young people in China support same-sex marriage.
Of course there are gay spaces in China, and being gay isn’t against the law there, as homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997. But conversion therapy is still very much a thing in China, as it is in some states here in America.
But while the Chinese government tries to stop queer culture, businesses aimed at Chinese LGBT people bring in a lot of money. According to Forbes, China is the third-largest LGBT market (after Europe and the United States), worth $300 billion.