Online platforms remove LGBT content, prompting discussions of discrimination

By Zhang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/23 18:03:40

People carry a rainbow flag - the symbol of the LGBT movement - along a street in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province, in May 2013 as part of an anti-discrimination march. Photo: IC

Several media platforms in China have recently blocked or deleted LGBT-related content, after Sina Weibo shut down an online lesbian community which sparked controversy.

Q Daily, an online magazine, removed its "LGBT" column, although some articles of the topic could still be accessed on its website on Tuesday.

A former writer for Q Daily confirmed with the Global Times on Tuesday that the column has been removed but he did not have more information about the decision. 

Q Daily had extensive and profound reports on LGBT topics. The shutdown is a great loss for the public to know and understand sexual minorities in an objective way, Peng Yanhui, founder of LGBT Rights Advocacy of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Other platforms including video site Bilibili and review site Douban have apparently followed suit.

The Global Times on Tuesday also found that searching the words gay and lesbian in both Chinese and English on Bilibili produced no results. A search for "LGBT" however revealed a long list of videos.

Douban has deleted a film about the struggles of members of the LGBT community who have come out. 

Lin Min, director of the public relations department of Douban, told the Global Times that the entry was not deleted because of its LGBT content, but declined to explain why it was dropped. Some other posts and chat groups about the LGBT community are still accessible, Lin said on Tuesday.

Cutting off information channels could increase misunderstanding and discrimination, Peng Yanhui said. 

But not every Chinese online platform is skirting around the topic. Some analysts say the Chinese society has shown increasing acceptance to sexual minorities and discussions on LGBT topics are open.

Because of China's culture and traditions, China is having its own pace in forming an accepting environment for LGBT people, Peng Xiaohui, a sexologist at Central China Normal University, told the Global Times. 

Platforms must consider their wide audience in dealing with content from the LGBT community and overwhelming exposure of the topic could mislead young people, who may regard LGBT identities as trendy even if they are heterosexual, he said, noting that sexual orientation should be a private matter rather than a public topic.

Newspaper headline: Online platforms remove LGBT content, causing concerns over misunderstanding

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