"Weibo's decision on gay content had prompted a tide of protest from outraged users who rallied behind the hashtag "#IamGay", viewed some 240 million times before it was banned by the platform on Saturday. My son and I love our country.
By Monday, Sina Weibo had backed down and reversed the decision, saying that its clean-up campaign would no longer include gay content and would only focus on pornographic and violent material.
The microblogging site, which saw its Nasdaq shares fall on Friday, said in its amended post: "This clean-up of games and cartoons will no longer target gay content". "No matter where we go we tell others loudly and proudly that we are from China ..."
According to Sky, the wave of censorship was part of a three-month plan to "create a bright and harmonious community environment" in accordance with a draconian cybersecurity law passed a year ago, with Weibo officials saying they would also delete violent or pornographic content. "But today ... I suddenly [find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sexual minority". Gay-themed content has been barred from television in the country for years, and a controversial set of guidelines introduced last year introduced a similar ban in the online streaming space.
Chen Du, a gay activist in Guangzhou, said Weibo's campaign would hurt the image of gay people in China and make it more hard for young people to come out.
On Monday it was back online and thanking supporters, saying: "Only by speaking up can we affect change".
Others pointed out homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997 and in 2001 removed from the government's list of mental disorders. "I want them to stand up and make a public apology". Gay conversion therapy is still used in some public hospitals and private clinics. Vibrant gay communities exist in cities such as Shanghai, where rights groups have organised cruises for family members to come out to one another.
Now that Weibo has admitted its mistake, Hua said, it should apologize to the LGBT community. "Otherwise people will talk for a while and then scatter, and we can not change Sina's rules", Lu said. In January, authorities ordered Sina Weibo to shut several portals, as part of the government's efforts to eliminate "vulgar" or "harmful" online content.
Since consolidating power previous year, Xi has increasingly stressed the Communist Party's absolute control over all aspects of society, resulting in a push for more rigid moral codes and even less room for LGBT visibility and advocacy. Numerous dissenting posts complaining about the ban were themselves blocked by Weibo. But Weibo users persisted. "But I know all you can seal is my account". You delete my post, and you think I won't post another?