China’s Media Censorship Ban Challenged

China’s Media Censorship Ban Challenged

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Chinese LGBTQI community take to Shanghai’s streets for the city’s annual Pride event. Photo: AFP
Chinese LGBTQI community take to Shanghai’s streets for the city’s annual Pride event. Photo: AFP

A Beijing court will review a case challenging China’s media regulatory body to justify classifying homosexuality as “abnormal”.

Fan Chunlin, 30, from Shanghai filed the lawsuit with his attorney Tang Xiangqian after the China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, denied his request to disclose the legal basis of the ban’s description of homosexuality among the list of behaviors deemed “abnormal.”

Chunlin’s sexual orientation wasn’t identified in the media.

The policy bans service providers from releasing programs that “present abnormal sexual relations or behavior,” such as incest, homosexual relations, sexual harassment and sexual violence calling the content “pornographic and vulgar” in the new policy went into effect in July.

A total of 84 subjects are banned by the ruling, including “luxurious lifestyles” and “superstition,” reported Pink News.

China’s Netcasting Service Association, a non-government association administered by the SAPPRFT, released the regulation in June 2017. More than 600 media outlets, including online platforms, are members of the association.

As soon as the ban when into effect in July 2017, 291 video-streaming platforms were closed and nearly 10,000 journalists lost their jobs, reported Pink News.

The country’s media regulator, which instituted the ban to bring online streaming services in line with traditional media in June 2017, denied Fan’s request stating that it didn’t fall under the scope for public information disclosure.

Chunlin and Xiangqian took their case to the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, which approved to review it Wednesday. The court has six months to review the case and will announce its decision by August of this year.

The court’s acceptance of the case is a hopeful sign to China’s LGBT community, but Chunlin, Xiangqian, and queer rights advocates within the country aren’t optimistic about a win, despite positive changes within the past five years.

Yanzi Peng, who founded LGBT Rights Advocacy of China, and Xiangqian have expressed doubts that the court will decided in favor of the case. Their goal is to raise awareness of China’s LGBT community and get a conversation started.

“We expect to lose somehow, because this is a national government department [we are challenging],” Peng told the Hollywood Reporter. “But we still wanted to file the case because we have to show the position from our community and to tell society that we are not abnormal.”

LGBT Chinese magazine Gay Voice came out against the regulation last year stating, “The false information in these regulations has already caused harm to the Chinese LGBT community — who are already subjected to prejudice and discrimination,” in a social media post, reported Gay Star News.

Communist government, which controls the media, has wrestled with its attempt to open up to the country’s LGBT community. Shanghai’s annual Pride event is still targeted by police and online streaming video and apps have been censored and banned by the government.

However, Chinese authorities haven’t done so consistently. There are moments when China attempts to depict LGBT people in a more positive light and has made some progressive moves toward the community overall within recent years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has also attempted to bring China in line with the modern era, but its been against a tide of conservative views, particularly regarding homosexuality, reported The Telegraph.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997. Four years later, homosexuality was removed the country’s mental illness classification in 2001.

More than 15 years later, Chinese society has yet to accept its LGBT citizens, unlike Chinese favorite vacation destinations Taiwan, which legalized same-sex marriage last year, and Thailand, which is more accepting of LGBT, especially transgender individuals.

Only 39 percent of China’s population believe that same-sex marriage should be legal found a survey by WorkForLGBT, reported the Advocate.

However, Chinese authorities are making small steps toward progress regarding the country’s LGBT community. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, China’s second most senior figure in the government, met with Geng Le, an influential gay tech industry leader in China, publicly in 2012, reported the Telegraph.

Geng founded Blued, China’s most popular dating app. The Chinese government has worked with Blued to help combat HIV/AIDS by organizing HIV-testing centers. Since the app’s launch in 2012, an LGBT job fair and the first “fully open” gay bar opened in the trendy Sanlitun bar area in China’s capital city Beijing, reported the media outlet.

The case is being reported by The Global Times Newspaper, a government-run newspaper, which has increased its positive coverage of Chinese LGBT issues during the last half decade, reported the Telegraph.

At the same time, China has cracked down on gay media the country allowed movies, like Disney’s live action film, “Beauty and the Beast,” which had a brief gay scene, to be seen uncensored by the public in 2017. Shame wedding smartphone apps, like Queers, matching gays and lesbians who want to create “fake weddings” to appease their families have also exploded.

“This regulation is very important, because it’s not just one film or program,” said Peng. “It’s a rule for all film and TV content on the internet. If this kind of regulation isn’t challenged, it means that discrimination against homosexuality is officially OK in China.”

Originally published by the Bay Area Reporter.

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