The latest step in China’s seemingly endless crackdown on online freedoms has seen new regulations pass into law which bans portrayals of homosexual relationships. The move is seen as not just a new level of online censorship, but also an attack on the country’s LGBT community.
Portrayals of “abnormal sexual activities” banned
The new regulations, which were issued last Friday, originate from the China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) and are targeted at what the organisations describe as “abnormal” sexual activities. The CSNA is the state body tasked with censoring all online video, audio, and streaming services.
In announcing the new rules, the CSNA heaped homosexuality together with such things as incest, sexual abuse, and sexual violence, which has understandably riled LGBT advocates across the globe.
Chinese LGBT magazine Gay Voice responded to the new rules by saying, “the false information in these regulations has already caused harm to the Chinese LGBT community – who are already subjected to prejudice and discrimination.” Meanwhile, the UK-based Gay Times described them as “irresponsible and dangerous.”
The new regulations also target content that “shows and promotes unhealthy love and marital situations, like extramarital affairs, one-night stands, sexual freedom or wife-swapping and so on” as well as any prolonged shots that provide “sensory stimulation”.
Their new regulations require all online video services which are available to Chinese citizens to hire a minimum of three “professional censors”. These censors must review all content and remove anything which they deem to go against the “correct political and aesthetic standards”.
According to the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua, those who fail to comply with the new regulations will be reported to the police for “further investigation”. In China, this can mean anything from a slap on the wrist to disappearing altogether.
China “worst place in the world” to be gay
As well as boasting the worst record for online freedom in the world by some distance, China is already one of the worst places on the planet to be gay too.
Although homosexuality was legalised in 1997, it still remained officially classified as a mental illness until 2001 and gay conversion therapy is still available in clinics across the country.
Censorship of gay themes is not unusual either, with all representations of gay people being banned from Chinese TV last year. And just last month, the hugely popular lesbian social media site Rela (热拉) was shut down without warning.
Little wonder then that China has recently been voted the worst place in the world to be gay. Less than 15% of LGBT people have ‘come out’ to their families and more than 50% have reported suffering discrimination.
It is in stark contrast to the situation in neighbouring Taiwan, which has just become the first Asian country to approve gay marriage.
Accessing LGBT content in China
Whilst the Chinese Communist Party might be taking steps to make accessing gay content harder in China, there is a simple and effective way that the Chinese LGBT community can still view the online materials of their choice freely.
By using a reputable VPN, such as IPVanish and ExpressVPN, both of which still work in China, they are able to vault over China’s Great Firewall and access whatever online content they want, regardless of the Chinese regime’s censorship efforts.
Just by connecting to a server outside China, it is possible to access the support, information, and social media sites you want to, regardless of your sexuality.
Whilst the right to equality and online freedom should be universal, in some countries, such as China, they both sometimes need a bit of a helping hand.