Chinese platform Wechat deletes LGBTQIA * groups

Tencent’s Wechat app. (Photo: dpa)

China’s leading social media platform Wechat apparently censors several accounts operated by members of the LGBTQIA * community. This restricts important shelters.

A deletion campaign of dozen LGBTQIA * profiles on Wechat is currently causing a stir. The affected WechatGroups and channels were run by students from all over China and were part of the LGBTQIA * scene. Some of them were already several years old and were considered established retreats for many users. The LGBTQIA * community in China, which is still discriminated against, obtained information and content from book recommendations to resources for psychological counseling via the deleted groups.

With the blocking of the partly very popular accounts, the shelter of the community is now shrinking. In addition, personal content such as pictures from joint events disappear. The affected accounts have been changed to “Unknown Account”. Users received the message that they had violated the terms of use. Those responsible at Wechat did not provide any details and did not respond to a request from CNN Business. According to an informant of the New York Post Some universities would have asked the students involved to delete their accounts two months ago in order to prevent their names being mentioned in the context. The universities at which the operators of the Wechat groups study include the renowned Peking University, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Fudan University in Shanghai.

Is the Chinese government behind the deletions?

It remains unclear whether the Chinese government is behind the removal of the accounts. The assumption is reasonable, however, since the communist party is increasingly acting in an authoritarian manner in dealing with government critics and the LGBTQIA * community. It wouldn’t be the first case of state censorship. The human rights organization Amnesty international reported last year: “Chinese and other tech companies operating outside of China blocked content that the government considered politically sensitive and expanded their censorship standards internationally.” Amnesty also criticizes the government’s ignorance of public calls for same-sex marriage in China is still not allowed. The human rights situation for the LGBTQIA * community in China is deteriorating rapidly: Last year, the most important major event of the community, the Pride Parade, was canceled at short notice, and activists have to endure constant harassment.

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