Chinese entertainment giant Tencent appears to be restricting the freedoms of LGBT users of their social media platform. Despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality in China in 1997, the LGBT community has seemingly been targeted.
WeChat deletes LGBT users
On Tuesday, a large number of Chinese LGBT users discovered their accounts were deleted from the WeChat service. While a lot of deleted users were university students, the only connection between all of the deleted accounts were that they were openly queer.
The day after, two WeChat groups designed to advocate for LGBT rights saw all of their content removed from the service. Users of the social media platform expressed support for the deleted accounts, telling people to “not give up".
Unfortunately, some users on the platform were not so kind to the oppressed users. According to the BBC, users were in support of LGBT users being silenced, saying “it was about time”.
One of the deleted LGBT groups, Fudan University's Zhihe Society, released the following statement:
"Our activities will not stop due to the closure. On the contrary, we hope to use this opportunity to start again with a continued focus on gender and society, and to embrace courage and love.”
Read More: LinkedIn censorship blocks profiles in China if they mention Tiananmen Square
The US is concerned
Following the news that LGBT WeChat accounts were being censored, the United States has expressed concern. The US State Department told reporters that the movement to silence the users is concerning.
They clarified that the silenced users were “were merely expressing their views, exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech”.
China's growing intolerance with the LGBT community has not gone unnoticed. After over a decade of tradition, 2020’s Shanghai Pride event was cancelled while other events were allowed to go on. The country has also censored Western entertainment that includes LGBT content.
Three years ago, Chinese social media Weibo revealed plans to take down all LGBT content. While this decision was later rescinded, WeChat's current plans seem eerily similar to Weibo's.
Read More: Tencent's Midnight Patrol uses facial recognition on minors to cull late-night gaming