A recent crackdown on LGBT accounts on Tencent’s popular WeChat platform has divided Chinese social media. Dozens of such accounts, mostly run by university students, had been deleted on Tuesday night – sparking fears of a tightening control over gay content.
The closures have garnered a wave of online support for the LGBT community, with many asking the student groups to “hang in there” and “do not give up”. But others welcomed the move, saying “it was about time” they were silenced.
China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, but the LGBT community continues to face discrimination in the country. On Wednesday, at least two student LGBT groups have issued statements in response to their WeChat accounts being removed, which included the erasure of all their previous posts.
The US State Department told reporters on Wednesday it was “concerned” that the accounts were deleted when they “were merely expressing their views, exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech”. But other Chinese social media users celebrated the move.
The crackdown is the latest example of what some call growing intolerance toward the LGBT community.