Chinese platform WeChat deletes multiple LGBTQ+ accounts

The social media platform removed over a dozen groups on Tuesday night, all of whom were providing a virtual space for sexual minorities in China.

Close-up of a hand holding a smartphone. Several icons appear on the screen, on the top left is WeChat

It has emerged that Chinese social platform WeChat has deleted over a dozen LGBTQ+ accounts from their platform. The profiles, which are mostly run by university students, were blocked on Tuesday, July 7,  in what appears to be an attempt to censor and discourage queer discussion and activity.

The groups originated from many of China’s top institutions including Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Fudan University in Shanghai. They provided students with a space to find LGBTQ+ advocacy and support and arranged events for interested members to attend.

The affected accounts received notices from WeChat with little explanation as to why their profiles had been deleted. “After receiving relevant complaints, all content has been blocked and the account has been put out of service,” the notice read. It went on to insinuate that they had violated government regulations relating to the management of online profiles. 

An administrator of one of the accounts in Beijing spoke to CNN about the issue, expressing their frustration about the removal of their 6-year-old account with around 18,000 followers. CNN states that in the past, the group could “openly advocate for LGBT rights on campus and hold small seminars for sexual minorities,” but more recently, this has not been the case. They report that there has been an increasing intolerance for LGBTQ+ activities in the country, and the group’s events are now limited to small, private gatherings.

“In recent years, our goal is to simply survive, to continue to be able to serve LGBT students and provide them with warmth. We basically don’t engage in any radical advocating anymore,” the administrator added.

This incident is the latest in a recurring pattern of LGBTQ+ censorship in China over recent years. Last August, Shanghai Pride, China’s oldest and only celebration for sexual minorities, was cancelled abruptly after operating successfully for 11 years. When Bohemian Rhapsody was screening in Chinese cinemas, all references to Freddie Mercury’s sexuality and AIDS diagnosis were censored. Another social media platform, Weibo, announced in 2018 that all posts related to homosexuality would be removed, a decision they later retracted following backlash.

The WeChat controversy seems to be dividing opinions in the country, with more liberal citizens expressing their concern for the direction that China is heading, while more nationalist members support the blocking. WeChat has yet to comment on the issue, and it remains unclear whether they will do so at all.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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