The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has shut down numerous social media accounts belonging to LGBTQ students in an apparent attempt to push back against “Western influences”.
Last week, WeChat, the Tencent-owned messaging and social media service, closed down group pages for LGBTQ student organisations. The pages now appear as “Unnamed” in line with “internet regulations”.
A statement from the Zhihe Society from Fudan University in Shanghai said they would not stop their activities, but will come back stronger with a greater focus on “courage and love”.
While same-sex marriage isn’t currently legal in China, homosexuality isn’t prohibited or considered a mental illness. Instead, some experts believe this new wave of censorship is in retaliation to ongoing tensions with Western countries, specifically the United States.
Hongwei Bao, a specialist in Chinese LGBTQ issues at the University of Nottingham, told the South China Morning Post: “There is a tendency in China for some people to relate homosexuality and LGBT people to Western lifestyles or capitalistic, bourgeois decadence, so this was in line with a moral panic.
“Especially now, there’s tension between China-West relations, so there is likely to be a heightened sense of nationalism which sees LGBT issues, feminist issues, as Western, as unfit for China.”
No official explanation has come from the CAC or WeChat as to why the accounts were closed, despite several media requests.
BlueCity Founder Baoli Ma has been one of the biggest drivers for equality in the country. In an interview with TIME last month he said “all discrimination comes from ignorance” and has therefore dedicated his time to educating people and raising awareness by sharing his story.
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