China's 'Twitter' reverses decision to remove gay content after public backlash
China's Sina Weibo's on Monday reversed a decision to remove gay content after outcry among gay Chinese who say the company had smeared homosexuality by lumping it with pornography as it tried to meet government censorship directives.
China's Twitter-equivalent Weibo said on Friday it would remove pornographic, violent or gay videos and cartoons in a three-month campaign, singling out a genre of manga animations and comics that often depict raunchy gay male relationships.
In response, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) advocates poured online to criticise the decision using hashtags, open letters and even calls to dump Sina shares.
On Monday, Sina said the clean-up would no longer target gay content.
The outcry reflects a fear that growing censorship tends to ban all gay content as "dirty", a setback for efforts to carve out an online space of tolerance for homosexuality in China's traditionally Confucian society, LGBT advocates say.
It was unclear whether Sina's measure was a direct result of a censorship directive from the government or an initiative taken by the company itself. Sina did not respond to a request for comment.
The official People's Daily newspaper of the ruling Communist Party on Sunday encouraged tolerance towards gay people, but added that "vulgar" content must be removed regardless of sexual orientation.
Chinese LGBT advocates hope to promote gay rights by educating society about sexual preferences and pushing back against traditional pressures to marry and have children.