Being gay is okay, despite Sina Weibo's assertions otherwise

Andy Boreham
I admit to feeling a bit upset when Sina Weibo equated homosexuality with pornography and bloody violence recently.
Andy Boreham

I admit to feeling a bit upset recently when Sina Weibo, in a post they sent out regarding their proposed cleanup of video content, equated homosexuality with pornography and bloody violence. That’s not okay.

The recent explosion in the popularity of short videos has led to the government coming down hard on platforms who allow vulgar content to be broadcast. It seemed to begin with “Elsagate,” the term used to describe the proliferation of violent and pornographic cartoons that hit China and much of the world early this year. The scandal engulfed many famous Chinese Internet platforms, such as Youku, iQiyi, Tencent, Sohu and Baidu.

Then short video apps like Douyin (Tik Tok) and Kuaishou became hugely popular, leading to another avenue where content which was “against social values” spread like wildfire.

The State Administration of Radio and Television ordered the industry to ensure “vulgar, violent, erotic and harmful” content wasn’t approved for public consumption — there would be heavy consequences if such content continued to make it past the teams of content approvers working for each content provider.

That’s when Sina Weibo, one of China’s largest and most influential online players, dropped an absolute clanger.

On April 13, they sent out a Weibo message heralding the beginning of a “three-month centralized clean-up operation” to rid the online behemoth of “cartoons, games and related short video content” that might be deemed in contradiction with China’s Cyber Security Law.

In the Weibo post they mentioned their main targets: “Pornographic cartoons and short video clips that promote pornography, bloody violence and homosexuality.”


As pointed out by People’s Daily in a piece published two days after Sina Weibo’s brain spasm, homosexuality “is not a disease,” it’s not something to be swept under the rug or hidden away by teams of content approvers. 

“It is the basic principle of modern society not to discriminate against homosexuals and to protect their rights and interests,” the piece in People’s Daily said.

The piece went on to say that equating homosexuality with pornography and violence — as Weibo did — leads the public to view it as “a kind of abnormal relationship (somewhere) between sexual abuse and sexual violence.” 

I completely agree.

It’s very important that platforms like Weibo and others focus on what’s really important as they diligently work to clean up their content over the next few months. Pornography and bloody violence should be targeted, sexual minorities and their stories should not.

“Let’s hope that more people can lay down their prejudices, dispel misunderstanding and tolerate others,” People’s Daily concluded. “May every kind of love thrive, may each person live out their inner color”.

After backlash from the public over their stance, Weibo issued a retraction, of sorts, on their official account today. The post said that their efforts will no longer target gay content, and they thanked the public for their feedback.

No apology, but at least Weibo’s debacle might illustrate to video moderators, as they work hard over the next few months and into the future to ensure the online environment in China is healthy and “harmonious,” that trampling on the rights of minorities is not the way forward.

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