China’s media regulator is reportedly clamping down on gay Sherlock fan fiction online.

According to That’s Shanghai magazine, the large amount of gay slash fiction generated by fans of the BBC show is falling foul of the latest purge by the Chinese National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications (NOAPIP).

Fan fiction based on the pairing of Sherlock and John Watson is very common, with the pair, played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, nicknamed ‘Curly Fu’ and ‘Peanut’ by Chinese fans.

Offbeat reports that NOAPIP’s latest initiative, Cleaning the Web 2014, has targeted self-published male-on-male fan fiction, known as danmei, and that several writers have been arrested, and websites forced to shutter.

One of the country’s largest fan-fiction websites, Jjwxc, has removed its danmei section, while other websites devoted to slash, such as Dmxsw, were shut down entirely.

A police official told Offbeat: “[Slash fictions] are essentially pornographic novels that promote homosexuality.”

Fans of the format are unhappy, with one user saying: “This is not cleaning the cyberspace. This is pure discrimination. I may never see a rainbow flag fly above China in my life time.”

Fans of the TV show have long theories that Sherlock and John Watson harbour romantic feelings for eachother, with Martin Freeman teasing that they filmed scenes in a gay club for the last series.

The Washington Post reports that the new anti-porn initiative is also being used to stifle dissent in the country.

Blogger Zhang Jialong wrote: “As social conflicts intensify, particularly between Chinese officials and the people they are supposed to serve, central authorities hope to clamp down, clean up, and suppress any so-called ‘harmful information’ that is disadvantageous to their dictatorship.”