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China’s LGBT Community Staged a Massive Protest Against an Online Ban of Gay Content—And Won

In a country often characterized by censorship, Chinese citizens are openly protesting.

Following an announcement by China’s Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo on Friday that it would remove pornographic, violent, or gay content as part of a three-month “clean up” campaign, gay Chinese citizens came out in droves.

Tens of thousands of the site’s users posted photos of themselves, along with variations on the hashtag “I am gay” or “I am gay not a pervert” over the weekend, turning the ban on its head. The latter hashtag was viewed over 1.35 million times. The users particularly took issue with the implication that there was a correlation between homosexuality and pornography, seeing the ban as a clear discrimination against homosexuals.

Despite the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1997, much of the LGBT community in China remains closeted. Only 15% have told their parents and 5% have come out publicly, according to a 2016 UN survey referenced by The Guardian.

The protests of Sina Weibo’s users were apparently heard by the site. In a highly unusual move, Sina Weibo relented, backtracking on its decision to include gay content in its clean up. The social networking site posted an announcement on Monday noting that gay content would no longer be targeted and thanking users for their suggestions, but offered no further details.