On April 13, China’s major microblogging platform Sina Weibo announced that, in order to create “a sunny and harmonious” environment, it would remove videos and comics “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality.” On April 16, after a public outcry, Sina reversed the ban on gay-themed content. Although Beijing decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, and stopped classifying it as a mental disorder in 2001, a 2016 United Nations Development Program survey found only 5 percent of the country’s gender and sexual minorities were publicly “out.” What does the Sina Weibo incident say about gay rights in China? How much of a factor was the protest against the initial ban? And what, if anything, does it portend for the relationship between public protest and government censorship?
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