New regulations issued by Bejing will prohibit portrayals of homosexuality, prostitution and drug addiction. The China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) is targeting what they consider “abnormal” sexual activity.
The rules which were issued on Friday demand that online video platforms hire at least three “professional censors”. They were ordered to view entire programmes and take down any considered not sticking to the “correct political and aesthetic standards,” according to the latest regulations.
The move is seen by human rights groups as the latest tightening of censorship in China. Government officials had closed down celebrity gossip blogs that authorities claim were “catering to the public’s vulgar taste,” according to Channel News Asia.
Other online material deemed offensive include damaging the national image, criticising revolutionary leaders or portraying the supernatural such as “conjuring spirits”.
Those who don’t adhere to the new rules face being reported to the police for further investigation, according to Xhinua state news agency.
One of China’s most famous sexologists condemned the latest move. “First of all, from the perspective of an artist, very few countries in this world set up a censorship system that violates its citizens’ freedom to create arts,” Li wrote on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website. “Second, it also violates the rights of sexual minorities to express their sexual preference.”
In 2016, Freedom House, which promotes democracy and human rights, condemned China as the “worst abuser of internet freedom” in the world.
China has a poor record on gay rights. According to a survey by Peking University, less than 15 per cent of homosexuals said they had come out to their families, and more than 50 per cent of those who had revealed their sexuality, said they had suffered discrimination as a consequence.
Homosexuality in China was decriminalised in 1997 and remained on the official list of mental illnesses until 2001.
The Chinese government banned all representations of LGBT people on TV in 2016, stating that “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.”