In an announcement made on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) on Tuesday, May 17, multiple LGBT advocacy groups, mostly based in Beijing, say they have decided to cancel their accounts on Douban, one of China’s leading social networks, in protest against its alleged homophobic moderation policy.
The groups say many events they’ve tried to post on the site have not been approved, including academic lectures. Also, pictures of events they’ve conducted in the past, including a bike tour held on Sunday to mark IDAHO, were deleted from the social network.
The recent turn in Douban’s moderation policy has come as a surprise to many of these groups because Douban has always had a very liberal approach to content on its site, which explains its cult following among musicians, artists and gays.
The aggrieved gay groups have come together to set up a portal Anti-Douban.com where they’ve published evidence of the Shanghai-based social network’s alleged homophobic censorship.
In a statement to the Global Times, Lin Min, Douban’s communications manager brushed the criticisms aside as nothing but a “misunderstanding”. She said:
“Pursuit of equality and respect has always been the cornerstone of Douban’s development since its establishment in 2005… We have intimated in the guidelines that ‘Douban doesn’t welcome any remarks of discrimination and hatred towards race, nation, religion… or sexual orientation.'”
Representatives from the various LGBT groups remain unconvinced however, and have said they would look into exploiting other online channels such as Sina’s Weibo.com in reaching out to the public.