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.