A Beijing court has accepted a case that would require Chinese media authority SAPPRFT to clarify the legal or policy basis of its listing of homosexual relations as “abnormal” within a regulation that stipulates principles for online content providers. The Global Times reports that private citizen Fan Chunlin has filed suit with the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court and that a decision is expected within six months, his lawyer told the paper.
In June this year, the official China Netcasting Services Association released the regulation that bans service providers from releasing programs that “present abnormal sexual relations or behavior,” such as incest, homosexual relations, sexual harassment and sexual violence, the Brookings Institute noted.
The China Netcasting Services Association is a non-government organization that’s administered by SAPPRFT. Its more than 600 members include the websites of the Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily, as well as major online video platforms such as iQiyi, qq.com and Youku.
China’s LGBT community was critical of the regulation which sparked outrage on social media when it was issued. There are about 70M LGBT people on the Chinese mainland.
Fan previously asked that SAPPRFT disclose the legal basis of the regulation, but was told that the request did not belong to the scope of information disclosure, per The Global Times. Fan’s attorney told the outlet that chances of winning the current case are slim, but there is expectation it will raise awareness and promote acceptance.
USC professor Stanley Rosen, who specializes in the Middle Kingdom, recently told Deadline that in general there is a “tension between the growth of online video, which has been less censored, and the new regulatory crackdown to bring it in line with what’s been approved for radio, film and TV. The government has been more reactive and less proactive when it comes to what’s acceptable for online video, trying to get people and platforms to engage in self-censorship. The tug-of-war should continue in 2018.”
In cinema last year, however, the People’s Daily official newspaper took pains to say local censors kept the “gay moment” scene in Disney’s Beauty And The Beast despite controversy in other markets.