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Chinese copy of Snapchat bans the words ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘LGBTQ’

Lily Wakefield September 2, 2021
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china qq WeChat lgbt ban Tencent

Tencent-owned QQ has reportedly banned LGBT+ search terms. (LightRocket via Getty/ SOPA Images/ Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar)

A hugely popular messaging platform in China, QQ, has banned the words “gay”, “lesbian” and “LGBTQ“, claiming that they are “harmful”.

According to Protocol, QQ, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, allows its more than half a billion users to connect and find group chats by searching for them with key words. The platform has been described as “the closest thing to Snapchat in China” by the Wall Street Journal.

This month, when QQ users tried to search words like “gay“, “lesbian” and “LGBTQ”, they received the message: “Use the Internet in a civil manner. Say no to harmful information.”

This is the same message that appears when users try to search for explicit content.

The company failed to give an explanation as to why the LGBT+ words had been banned, but after the news went public, the message was swiftly changed. It now claims there are “no results found”.

Being gay was decriminalised in China in 1997, but it was not declassified as a psychiatric disorder until 2001.

The country does not recognise same-sex marriage, there are no legal protections in place that protect LGBT+ Chinese people from discrimination and LGBT+ people continue to face huge social stigma.

The country’s longest-running LGBT+ celebration, Shanghai Pride, was cancelled abruptly last year. A source told CNN that the volunteer-led team at Shanghai Pride cancelled the event following pressure from local authorities.

PinkNews has approached Tencent for comment.

China’s biggest social media platform has been ‘wiping out’ LGBT+ accounts

Earlier this year, it was reported that WeChat, which like QQ is also owned by Tencent, had been “wiping out” LGBT+ accounts, prompting fears that the move was part of a wider crackdown.

In July, several LGBT+ groups told Reuters they had been locked out of their WeChat accounts and said they had been “censored without any warning”.

The platform, which has over a billion users, displayed a message saying that the accounts had “violated regulations on the management of accounts offering public information service on the Chinese internet”.

Related topics: China, LGBT

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