‘I am gay’ protests sweep China over ban on homosexual content on Weibo
China’s Sina Weibo said it would remove “homosexual” content from the popular microblogging platform, prompting a storm of online protests Saturday under the hashtag “I am gay”.
Weibo said in a statement Friday it had begun a “clean-up campaign” to remove “illegal” content, including “manga and videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence or (related to) homosexuality”.
It is the latest sign in a crackdown by the ruling Communist Party to purge the Internet of any content deviating from its “core values of socialism” while stifling criticism of social norms and established policies.
The three-month campaign will also tackle “violent video games, like ‘Grand Theft Auto’,” Weibo said on the official account of its administrators.
The popular Twitter-like platform, which boasts 400 million active monthly users, said it was implementing China’s new cybersecurity law and had already removed some 56,240 items by Friday evening.
The announcement provoked a flood of reaction from stunned or outraged Chinese Internet users, with protesters rallying behind the hashtag “I am gay”.
By midday Saturday, it had been used by some 170,l000 Weibo users, before it was apparently banned by the platform.
“There can be no homosexuality under socialism? It is unbelievable that China progresses economically and militarily but returns to the feudal era in terms of ideas,” one angry commenter said.
“How is it that public opinion has narrowed so much in the last two years?” said another.
China only decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, but conservative attitudes remain widespread.
“It’s simply discriminatory! Many mangas removed were not pornographic,” observed a third.
The large online community of “funu” (“deviant girls”), heterosexual women who are avid fans of male gay romances and share comics or stories, was particularly critical.
Many messages protesting at the content crackdown were deleted.
Authorities closely monitor the Internet to purge any content deemed sensitive, such as political criticism or pornography, and require websites to have their own censors.
China has seen a tightening wave of censorship under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who advocates a stronger promotion of socialist ideology in society.
One of its latest victims was Toutiao, one of China’s most popular news aggregator apps, which was punished this week for allowing users to share ribald jokes or videos and has promised to increase its censorship staff to 10,000.
(This story has not been modified from its original version)
China's capital Beijing will introduce a vaccine mandate for certain public venues from July 11, the first in the country, as millions in China face new curbs and the country tackles fresh Covid-19 clusters including a karaoke lounge-related outbreak in Shanghai and a spreading one in the tourist city of Xian. Restaurants and public transport are exempt. Those who have health problems and cannot be vaccinated are exempt from the mandate.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defied growing calls for him to step down on Wednesday, telling lawmakers he would "keep going" following a wave of resignations from his government including those of two key ministers. Johnson made the remarks in parliament in response to a question from a lawmaker in his own party who asked if the prime minister thought there were any circumstances in which he should resign.
An Indian-origin Malaysian drug trafficker, Kalwant Singh, is to be executed early Thursday after a Singapore court dismissed a last-minute appeal to delay his sentence. This comes two months after authorities executed another Indian-Malaysian drug trafficker - Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 34 - whose lawyers and family appealed on grouDharmalingam, who had been on death row for over a decades he was mentally disabled. He had sought a review on grounds he had given information that helped arrest a key suspected drug trafficker.
The university responsible for curating the programme and the museum that provided it a platform issued an apology on Tuesday after uproar over a film with a poster found offensive by Hindu groups in Canada. On the other hand, York University, where the film's director is studying, has supported Leena Manimekalai's artistic freedom. A spokesperson for the university also said its logo was used on the controversial poster “without permission”.
The city of Toronto on Tuesday said it is making an exception to its “clean shave” directive for security personnel posted at shelters impacted by Covid-19, after nearly 100 Sikhs were removed from their posts for not meeting the requirement. Security agencies contracted by the city laid off or transferred Sikhs who refused to shave their beard for religious reasons. The matter was raised by the World Sikh Organisation.