The Chinese government have gone censorship mad and banned all depictions of gay people on television, as well as any on screen examples of extramarital affairs, one night stands and underage relationships.
It’s all reportedly part of a rather bonkers attempt at a nationwide cultural crackdown on ‘vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content’, reports the Guardian.
Chinese censors have released new regulations for content that ‘exaggerates the dark side of society’ – and homosexuality apparently falls under that ridiculous banner in their eyes.
But the bizarre ban doesn’t stop there. Smoking, drinking, adultery, sexually suggestive clothing, and even reincarnation are all now not allowed to appear on the box in China.
Given that just about every decent TV show we can think of features one of those things, television in China may be about to get very dull indeed.
The new rules meant that, last week, popular drama series ‘Addicted’ was pulled from streaming websites in China, as the show depicts two gay men in relationships.
The government pointed out that the show contravenes the new guidelines, which state:
No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.
Unsurprisingly, that explanation hasn’t done much to placate the show’s millions of viewers in the country, with users taking to Chinese social media site Weibo to voice their frustrations with the decision.
According to Buzzfeed, one user commented: “Excuse me? Sexual orientation is a personal freedom. This is major discrimination.” While another pointed out that by this logic, all Apple products would have to be pulled from China as the CEO, Tim Cook, is gay.
Citizens in China have had to put up with an increase in cultural censorship since Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012, but this latest attack on their Netflix and chill habits has to be particularly infuriating.
The new regulations have understandably angered gay activists in China, who have fought for two decades to overcome the stigma in their country against homosexuality. It was only decriminalised in 1997 and was only taken off the official list of mental illnesses in 2001.
The government’s description of same-sex relationships as ‘abnormal’ in these new guidelines has to be considered particularly infuriating and distressing.
It’s a vivid reminder that, for all the positive steps forward which have been made for the LGBT community around the world, there’s still so much more which needs to be done to tackle ignorance and discrimination.