China has banned homosexual content from its version of Twitter,prompting an angry backlashwith floods of users posting #Iamgay in protest.
But within hours of the objection trending, the platform had also banned the rallying hashtag and deleted most of the comments on the subject, it was reported.
The social media siteWeiboissued new guidelines on Friday as part of a three-month cleanup of certain content, such as pornographic images and videos, bloody violence and homosexuality, according to Whats on Weibo, an independent website.
Weibos community manager said the changes were to create a bright and harmonious community environment and fulfil its corporate responsibility. The ban also covers the Grand Theft Auto game.
Within hours, Weibos announcement had been read millions of times and shared about 100,000 times. Hundreds of people starting posting #Iamgay in Mandarin, causing the slogan to start trending.
Some users then added#Iambreakingthelaw.
However, Weibo appeared to then ban the hashtags, and deleted most of the related 150,000-plus comments, Deutsche Welle reported.
Messages replacing posts explained that they contained illegal content.
One Weibo member had posted: I am gay and Im proud. Even if I get taken down there are tens of millions like me!
Twitter users described Chinas clampdown as a worrying development.
One,LissofAo, wrote: I have quitWeibo. And I heard from my friends that the tag #IAmGay, which was read over 210 million times onWeibo, has been deleted by the authority. China has taken measures to oppressLGBTgroups. No surprise. And I bet there will be further steps to inhibit us.
China, where traditional views predominate, has a poor record of tolerance towardshomosexuality. A survey last year by a German website rated it as the worst country in the world for LGBT+ people.
The official account of Weibo on Twitter, @SinaWeibo, has not tweeted since 2016.