Chinese social media company Sina Weibo has reversed its decision to ban LGBTQ-related content, after an overwhelming amount of backlash online.
One of the largest social media platforms in China, often compared in format to Twitter, Weibo announced on Friday that it would be removing LGBTQ-related content in order to "create a sunny and harmonious community environment."
The platform, which has just under 400 million users, posted that the move was in compliance with the Chinese government's recently implemented cybersecurity laws, throwing content "related to homosexuality" in with banned violent or pornographic material.
The post on Weibo's official administrator’s account, drew thousands of comments and shares, prompting people to use the hashtags
#我是同性恋 (#IAmGay) and #IAmGayNotAPervert, share their own personal stories, and share photos of themselves with their partners. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports the hashtags generated over 500,000 posts, which were viewed more than 530 million times.
Some even brought the protest to Twitter, which is blocked in China.
#我是同性恋 love is love ,why weibo have this fucking rules! People have right in Social media to show someone they love ?
— Rebecca Luo (@gialuomu) April 14, 2018
Following this considerable backlash, Weibo posted on Monday that it would no longer be targeting LGBTQ-related content for removal. The company said it will be focusing on monitoring "subjects related to pornography and violence," and thanked people for their "discussion and suggestions."
Homosexuality is not illegal in China — it was only decriminalised in 1997 — but there are limited protections against LGBTQ discrimination in the country. As the Guardian points out, LGBTQ communities have largely been forced to stay underground, with only five percent of people publicly out, according to this UN survey. Conversion therapy still exists in China.