Tencent, the Chinese Internet giant that is known for its instant messaging software QQ, has apologised for describing Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook as a “sufferer of homosexuality” (“同性恋患者”) in a recent article on its content portal.
The use of the term, once widespread but abolished since homosexuality was struck off the official list of psychological disorders in 2001, sparked anger among China’s gay and lesbian community.
Leading activists have lambasted the company, saying this was not the first instance Tencent has been accused of spreading homophobia. Just recently, in the wake of the Lü Liping saga, Tencent published an article that appeared to justify the award-winning actress’s homophobic sentiments. Netizens subsequently discovered that the writer of the article was himself a Christian fundamentalist and criticised the company for giving the writer a platform to air his religiously-informed homophobia.
In the latest episode, Tencent has issued a retraction for its use of the term, saying the article had been amended, and apologising to all readers who were offended. It also invited “supervision from the public” as it sought to “raise editorial standards” so as to “prevent a similar event from happening in the future”.