China’s most famous social media site has removed accounts that were created on LGBT topics by students and other non-government organizations. This raises concerns about the tightening of control by China’s ruling Communist Party over gay and lesbian content.
WeChat sent account holders a notice that they had violated rules, but did not give any details. According to the founder of an LGBT organization, who requested anonymity out of fear of official retaliation, She stated that dozens of accounts were closed, and all this happened at around 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Although it was not clear whether this step was ordered or not by Chinese authorities. However, it is part of tightening political controls and attempts to silence any critics of its rule.
Tencent Holding Ltd., WeChat’s operator confirmed that it had received an email asking for comment, but did not immediately respond.
Although homosexuality was made illegal by the Communist Party in 1997, gay, lesbians, bisexuals, and other sexual minorities continue to be discriminated against. Although there is more public discussion about these issues, authorities have blocked some LGBT activities.
According to the LGBT founder, the official attitude has become more strict.
According to the founder of the group, the WeChat accounts contained personal stories as well as photos from group events.
A former group operator for university students asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation and called the step a terrible blow.
According to the LGBT group founder, university officials requested that students shut down LGBT social media sites or avoid mentioning their school names two months ago. Officials told Jiangsu’s eastern province that they would investigate groups advocating women’s rights and minorities in order to maintain stability.
According to state media, surveys suggest that China has about 70 million LGBT citizens, which is about 5% of China’s population.
Although some groups organized film festivals or other public events, they have declined in number.
Shanghai Pride, one of the most well-known, cancelled events last year, and scrapped future plans with no explanation, after 11 years of operation.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, China’s legislature received public suggestions about legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012, according to reports. It did not indicate if legislators would take any action.