China's Censorship Laws Got Harsher As The Reward For Reporting Others Increased

Censorship in China just keeps getting harsher.

China has announced that it will be increasing a reward given to anyone who can report “illegal” works.

The Chinese government made this announcement last month as the country continues its effort to censor content online, in television, and now in person as well.

An reward will go out to any Chinese citizen who can report “illegal” publications that distribute “obscene” material. The amount of the reward can now go upwards to 600,000 yuan or $86,412.

Creating an incentive in order to increase reports can easily create chaos and exploitation of the law. Look for instance at what happened recently in America with the Philadelphia-born gay man who was almost deported, because of a law where sheriffs get compensated for extending the detention of suspected illegal immigrants.

Another example would be the Chinese author who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month. The author, who’s referred to as Tianyi, was selling 7,000 pornographic books involving the love affair of a teacher and his male student.

Someone reported Tianyi and she was arrested by the police earlier this year. Now, she has been given the heavy sentence of 10 years, which many complained is a longer sentence than even rapists get.

It seems a wave of censorship is sweeping the globe, but China is leagues ahead of anybody else.

China Sentences Author To 10 Years In Prison For Selling A Homoerotic Novel

Unfortunately, one author’s attempt at realistically depicting gay romance and sex has resulted in a ticket to jail.

Chinese media sources are buzzing with the news that a female novelist under the pen name Tianyi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tianyi gained the attention of Chinese authorities after her homoerotic novel Gongzhan, which depicts the sexual relationship between a teacher and his student, went viral last year, according to IOL and AFP.

In the eyes of the Chinese government, Tianyi has surmounted 150,000 yuan (approximately 21,600 USD) through “illegal profits” after selling 7,000 pornographic books.

According to DailyMail, Tianyi and three others were the apprehended by the authorities sometime between last November and May. She was only just recently sentenced in the eastern Anhui province on October 31.

At the current moment, Tianyi is attempting to repeal the court decision. While that's happening, many on Weibo (China’s Twitter-like website) have pointed out how unnecessarily harsh Tianyi’s punishment is.

While Chinese law says homoerotic novels that make 50,000 yuan ($7,200) or more are subject to punishment, the sentencing of 10 years in prison is an even harsher punishment than some rapists get.

Unfortunately though, China has increased its crackdown on homosexual content. This is despite the fact that homosexuality is perfectly legal in the country.

Multiple sources of gay-themed entertainment has been censored, banned, or watered down such as the popular gay webs series Addicted, the video game franchise The Sims, and China’s first openly distributed film Looking for Rohmer, and more.

In addition, Chinese citizens have fought against suppression on sites like Weibo, which are trying to stick to the government’s strict censorship laws.

And just last week, the government increased the amount of a cash award for Chinese citizens who report “illegal” publications that distribute “obscene” material. Now, the reward can go upward to 600,000 yuan ($86,412).

Plus, the Cyberspace Administration of China recently celebrated the “cleaning up” of 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media that were spreading “politically harmful” information and rumors.

But gain, homosexuality is legal in China and the government continues to repeat its “live and let live” policy in terms of LGBTQ people. That is, as long as they don’t congregate too openly both online and off it.

Will China’s LGBTQ citizens ever see freedom?

h/t: IOL, AFP, DailyMail

A Teacher In China Was Fired Because He's Gay, And Now He's Suing In A Landmark Case

A gay kindergarten teacher is suing his former school after they fired him last month.

According to Reuters, the teacher’s court case is being considered a landmark discrimination and minority protections case for the country of China.

Back in August, the teacher, who has decided to stay anonymous, was fired from his job after he posted on social media that he attended a previous LGBTQ event. He was then told directly by the school principal that he was fired because he’s gay. Apparently, the school feared that parents wouldn’t want a gay man teaching their children.

The teacher, who had a 10 percent stake in the school, was then removed from his job without sufficient severance or payment for his stake, according to his lawyer Tang Xianqian.

“The main reason we filed this case is not just as a labour dispute but to make the gay community more visible to a wider group of people. To let more people realise that they can easily be victims of discrimination,” Tang said.

The anonymous teacher doubled down on this point by saying, “I hope that I can use this case to push forward Chinese society to be more balanced and accepting.”

While it is legal to be gay in China, there are no rights to protect specifically LGBTQ people from discrimination. Instead, there are more broad anti-discrimination laws that protect “minority groups.”

Now this case could change that as it’s the first case in China, as far as Tang’s aware of, involving a gay teacher being fired because of his or her sexual orientation.

Beyond the goal of raising awareness for LGBTQ rights and anti-discrimination laws, the teacher is hoping for an outcome where he is rehired and paid for his financial loss. The court case has been picked up by a court in Quindao, so that result is now a possibility.

h/t: Reuters

Gay Chinese Citizens Are Buying Homes In Thailand To Flee From Their Anti-Gay Government

More and more LGBTQ Chinese people are leaving cities and towns in China for more accepting locations.

Last May, we shared with you the story of LGBTQ Chinese people leaving their home-born country for the more inclusive country of New Zealand. That said, it looks like that’s not the only location that they are fleeing to.

The Bangkok Post and Juwai.com report that Bangkok and Phuket are the top two destinations in Southeast Asia for LGBTQ Chinese people.

With China constantly going back and forth with its treatment of LGBTQ people, many have fled in order to find solace elsewhere. It seems that these two cities in Thailand have become a home, or at least second home, for many Chinese citizens (gay or otherwise).

Carrie Law, the chief executive for real estate company, Juwai.com, shared that Chinese people have made 32.7 billion baht (about 1 Billion US dollars) worth of inquiries into Bangkok buildings in the past 18 months. LGBTQ people have made about US$50-80 million of those inquiries.

"They want to own property in a place they can feel comfortable visiting and living in," said Law.

This is an argument that former Chinese residents Tracey Bo and Effie Liu can attest to.

"In China, there is a stigma about being a lesbian and we face strong pressure from family and society," said Bo to the New Zealand Herald.

"We found it is impossible to settle there."

That said, the inclusiveness is only part of the reason for increase in Chinese home buyer when it comes to Thailand. The other part is because of how cheap Bangkok and Phuket are in comparison to Chinese cities.

Bangkok is one-sixth as expensive as housing in Hong Kong, according to Juwai.com. In addition, these houses are often more spacious and come with more features/amenities.

On the lower end of the spectrum, many Bangkok condominiums start at $130,000. 

While the Chinese government will continue to decide whether it really wants LGBTQ people or not, it seems some are leaving ahead of time and making a hope in Thailand. Honestly, we can’t blame them.

h/t: Bangkok Post, Juwai.com

China's Trying To Ban Taiwan From Raising Their Flag At The Gay Games 2018

This year, the Gay Games is being held in Paris and the event is getting ever closer. As that fateful time grows closer, one country is noticing that it’s being rebranded and it has a good idea whose fault it is.

Relations between Taiwan and China have been less than nice as of late. China considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory and insists on the country being referred to as “Chinese Taipei” or something to that extent.

Meanwhile, Taiwan considers itself independent, and feels it’s time to stop being called Chinese Taipei at sporting events like the Olympics. As such, they saw the Gay Games in Paris as an opportunity to start a new precedent.

As Yang Chih-chun, president of the Taiwan Gay Sports and Gay Development Movement Association, told AFP, “We will fight till the last moment to use our national flag at the Gay Games."

According to TaiwanNews, civil rights activist Chi Chia-wei also highlighted the significance of the Gay Games being the host of this precedent by saying, "Homosexuals will bravely take care of whatever the government won't!"

 Unfortunately, it looks like China’s bullying its way in.

According to AFP, Taiwan was notified by the Federation of Gay Games (or FGG) that the French government had “expressed concerns” over displaying the Taiwanese flag.

"Our logical conclusion is that China protests to the French government or otherwise this would not have happened," Yang said.

Even worse, the association is now fighting over what to call the country. The Paris games website labels them as “Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)” when the association registered as simply “Taiwan.”

"We hope the FGG can resist pressure," said Yang.

This pressure coming from China is not only affecting the Gay Games but other sectors involving Taiwan. Several international airlines and companies have changed the classification of the nation on their websites to “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei.”

In addition, the Chinese government have cut off official communication with the Taiwanese government, while inversely increasing military and diplomatic pressure.

Despite all this, politicians and Olympians are expressing their support of the 25 Taiwanese competitors participating in inline skating, table tennis, and swimming under the slogan “Taiwan Comes Out!”

In fact, Taiwanese politician Huang Kuo-chang expressed his support of the group of athletes at a press conference earlier today.

Those athletes will need all the support they can get as outside influences are trying to force their hand. As we grow closer to the start of events on August 4th, it looks like Taiwan will have to fight in order to raise its flag at the Gay Games in Paris… or anywhere else for that matter. 

Shanghai Pride Participants Celebrated The Event's 10th Anniversary

Shanghai Pride is nearing its end, but those who participated are hopeful for its future and the future of LGBTQ people in China.

This year’s Shanghai Pride marks its 10th anniversary and many celebrated (and some still are).

The theme for the 2018 version is “our community, our identity, our pride.” The event is still ongoing and will continue until the 18th, but many of the 40 scheduled events such as the Pink Brunch, the sexual harassment awareness panel, trivia night, some of the film festival, and more have already finished.

With the end of the event nearing, many are looking back at this year’s Shanghai pride and also the journey of LGBTQ people in China.

“None of us imagined we’d organize ten of these,” said Shanghai Pride cofounder Charlene Liu to TIME. “I came out through Shanghai Pride, I met my wife through Shanghai Pride, so today is very emotional for us.”

Historically, China had a fruitful relationship with homosexuality. Several Chinese emperors had homosexual relationships and ancient Chinese annals celebrated same-sex love.

Unfortunately, the Westernization of the country led to a toxic attitude towards LGBTQ life and love. This has continued all the way to today’s ruling Communist Party, which is officially atheist but carries a lot of that earlier homophobic mentality.


Celebrating 10 years of #shanghaipride

A post shared by Charlie Campbell (@charliecamp6ell) on

Since then, the Chinese government has shown inconsistent treatment of LGBTQ people. The country’s officials state that LGBTQ people have rights like any other and support LGBTQ businesses like gay app Blued, but they censor LGBTQ media and prohibit large gatherings of LGBTQ people.

The latter was a source of concern for Brian Song, who helped to organize Shanghai Pride’s The Journey of Light choir concert.

“We were a little bit worried that maybe our concert would get canceled because of the current environment regarding LGBT in the media,” he says. “We’re not really free to publicize our community right now.”

That said, attitudes towards LGBTQ people are slowly changing for Chinese people.

For instance, many social media users complained and protested when Weibo, essentially China’s Twitter, tried to ban gay content in April. In addition, the Chinese government then shared that it supported LGBTQ people on the site.

With ten years under its belt and a slow shift in support for LGBTQ people, the participants of Shanghai Pride have a lot to be thankful for and are looking forward to the future.

“There is more and more awareness right now, which is good, so I think people will get more accepting of what we do, who we are,” said Garbo Huang from Hong Kong, who’s lived in Shanghai for seven years. “We’ll just keep on marching forward.”


Happy pride!!!!

A post shared by Allen Tang (@allentangcl) on

h/t: TIME Magazine

Asian Immigrants From Anti-LGBTQ Countries Are Moving To New Zealand

A researcher says that LGBTQ people are leaving hostile countries in Asia for the more accepting lands of New Zealand.

Sharyn Davies is an associate professor at AUT University. There, she also studies gender and sexuality issues in Asia.

Thanks to those studies, Davies noticed a change happening in New Zealand’s population. The amount of LGBTQ people trying escape Asian countries is “sadly rising.”

Specifically, Davies has found that people from other countries made up under half of all same-sex couples in New Zealand in 2013. Then just four years later, 1785 same-sex couples from overseas have married in New Zealand.

That said, Davies doesn’t have the resources to count how many LGBTQ immigrants have come into the country through visas. And sadly, there is no available data on the subject beyond what Davies has found.

That said, what Davies can say is that New Zealand’s acceptance of LGBTQ people had led to many new immigrants.

"In New Zealand, we have anti-discrimination laws and allow same sex marriage, so yes it's a mecca. NZ is quite like paradise," Davies said.

As examples of this, the New Zealand Herald found and interviewed a few immigrants who came to escape more hostile countries.

First is an Indonesian gay men with the alias Jufrie. Jufrie came into New Zealand this past January after his partner was arrested because of their relationship.

While homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the country has become incredibly hostile towards LGBTQ people, specifically gay men and trans people, in the last two or three years.

Jufrie shares that his partner was taken away during a night raid of their home by "religious security guards.” His partner was then charged and imprisoned under the Pornography Act as an excuse.

"It was about 2 or 3am, and they came and just rammed the door of the house down," he said.

"My partner held them out by placing a bookshelf at our room door and because of what he did, I managed to escape out of the toilet window."

"My dream is that one day my husband can also escape to New Zealand and we can legally get married and live happily ever after here," Jufrie said.

In addition, The Herald also interviewed a lesbian couple from China.

25-year-old Tracey Bo and Effie Liu, moved to New Zealand because they wanted to eventually marry, which China is nowhere near legalizing.

Bo, who’s currently in New Zealand on a work visa, came ot Auckland in 2012 has a student. She then met Liu, who’s in New Zealand on a student visa, in 2015 while on a Chinese lesbian app. Sadly, the two only found problems from there.

"In China, there is a stigma about being a lesbian and we face strong pressure from family and society," Bo said.

"We found it is impossible to settle there, and the only place we can be together is here in New Zealand."

"We hope to get a residence visa and stay here, and our dream is that one day our family in China can also accept us as who we are," Bo added.

These are just two stories to represent hundreds of people are showing up in New Zealand to escape countries in Asia.

h/t: The New Zealand Herald

Two Chinese Citizens Were Attacked By Security Guards At A Beijing Pride Event

Video of security guards attacking two Chinese women at an LGBTQ event in Beijing has sparked outrage online.

This past Sunday, LGBTQ people and supporters gathered at the 798 district in Beijing, which is known for its art. At the time, people were gathering to hand out rainbow badges to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia. Unfortunately, that would then incite a homophobic attack of its own.

Two security guards stopped the organizer of the event from walking further down district 798 saying that the badges weren’t allowed in the district. An argument ensued and quickly escalated to the point of multiple security guards ganging up on two women in the street.

Piaoquanjun, the online alias of the organizer of the event, told Chinese state media Global Times that the two women were sent to the hospital.

Later, a video of the fight found its way online and the hashtag 798 beating started trending. Unfortunately, both the video and hashtag were later blocked on social media sites like Weibo (which itself has had problems with LGBTQ people).

In response to this situation, the Guangzhou gender Education Centre published an open letter online saying, “This is not only a violation of the dignity and rights of the LGBT community, but also a naked trampling of the basic rights of citizens prescribed by the constitution.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but the Chinese government has a spotty record of how it treats LGBTQ people. It seems that China officials will acknowledge and accept LGBTQ people as long as they aren’t out in the open.

As Lu Pin, the founder of the blog The Feminist Voices said concerning the incident and the political climate, “The public space for diverse expressions is collapsing. People are realizing that they must stand up for their rights, but the situation is so difficult now.”

The First Gay Film With A Wide Release In China Got Disappointing Reviews

China just had its first gay film with a wide release across the country, but many a more disappointed than excited.

Last year, the Chinese censorship organization announced that they would allow gay film “Looking for Rohmer” to get a wide release across the country. This surprising act of tolerance and acceptance confused many as China’s actions towards gay content flips from intolerant to tolerant depending on the day.

But now that the film is out in theaters, some feel that this milestone is more of a letdown than anything.

Looking for Rohmer, otherwise known for its former working title Seek McCartney, follows the story of a Chinese dancer named Zhao Jie. Zhao Jie (played by Han Geng) starts the film in turmoil as his French friend Rohmer (played by Jérémie Elkaim) died while exploring Tibet. The film then explores the intimate relationship between the two.

A writer from Sixth Tone was honored with a spot to see a Shanghai screening of the film (and he noted that the three other viewers in the otherwise empty theater were also gay men).

What that Sixth Tone writer saw ended up being a pretty confusing film. It seems that the film went through several hoops of censorship before it could be released. This made it out to be one of those films where you have to know in order to recognize the signs of a homosexual storyline.

For instance, there was one scene where Rohmer goes to a bar to drink his worries away. Gay viewers of the film might have been able to recognize that the bar was only full of men and some more may have been able to recognize the bar as the popular LGBT bar in Beijing called “Destination.”

As Sixth Tone writes:

“Some scenes obviously point to a gay relationship,” a 43-year-old marketer surnamed Yang told Sixth Tone. Yang recalled how Rohmer and Zhao embraced, how Zhao rubbed Rohmer’s back in a public bathhouse, and how the two held hands during a night out drinking. But Yang also conceded that these scenes were few and far between, and might go unnoticed by straight moviegoers.

That said, many have felt cheated. After anticipating “the first gay film with a wide release in China,” many felt like censorship turned it into the blandest film (that’s kind of gay) imaginable.

"I thought I was watching a documentary film about the scenery in Tibet,” one ticket-booking user wrote online. “The product after censorship is a perfunctory, sucky movie.”

That said, perhaps Looking for Rohmer will have a better effect on the country in the longrun. Perhaps, the goal is like Love, Simon where Looking for Rohmer is just a movie to open the door for more gay films in the future.

That said, if you take away the draw for viewers looking to see gay films, Love, Simon remains a good movie while it looks like Looking for Rohmer has beautiful scenery but is otherwise pretty bland.

h/t: Sixth Tone

"On Second Thought...": Social Media Juggernaut Weibo Decided Not To Ban Gay Content After all

In a surprise and fantastic twist, Chinese social media company Sina Weibo has decided not to ban gay content.

The announcement of a quick reverse in policy came earlier today after Weibo’s official account posted, “We thank all for your discussions and suggestions.”

Two days ago, we shared with you the news that Sina Weibo or just Weibo, a program that’s essentially the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, announced it would ban its 392 Million users from uploading gay content.

This announcement and policy change was in an effort to comply with China’s harsh internet censorship laws that prohibit gay content along with depictions of violence, underage drinking/drug use, pornographic content, and more.

That said, there was an immediate pushback by users who were against the new policies. Several users (LGBTQ or ortherwise) complained that the rules were too restrictive, and some said their accounts had been banned and not just the content they’d uploaded.

"Sina Weibo's original decision simply made no sense -- why link homosexuality with other illegal activities," said leading LGBTQ rights advocate Xiaogang Wei.

"They targeted the entire LGBT community in that notice," he added. "We must pressure these companies and show them it's not easy to discriminate against an entire community -- no matter who orders them to do it."

That pressure was applied thanks to a popular Weibo page called “The Gay Voice,” which initially announced that it would be shutting down after the policy change.

That announcement was quickly followed by fans of the page sharing their support by bringing back an old post titled, “I am gay.” The hashtag #ImGay started trending as LGBTQ users and allies shared that they were against the new Weibo policy.

"I feel totally surprised and touched," The Gay Voice founder Hua Zile, told CNN.

"Seven years ago, not that many people were willing to make their voices heard this way," he said. "It's amazing to see this happen now, with everyone -- straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people -- using the hashtag and joining in."

This then led to Weibo making the quick announcement this morning stating that it would not be banning gay content (though, violence and pornography are still on the chopping list).

In other news, it seems that the Chinese government is just as mixed on this issue of LGBTQ visibility as it always is.

News source The People’s Daily, which is run directly by the ruling Communist Party, released an article on Sunday chastising Weibo for its decision to ban gay content. The post stated that “homosexuals are also ordinary citizens.”

That said, the news source also stated that depictions of violence and pornography on the internet has to be eliminated no matter what sexual orientation is the focus.

h/t: CNN