On Halloween, a Chinese author was sentenced to ten years in prison for writing a novel that, by the determination of a court in the city of Wuhu, was too obscene to be distributed under China’s censorship laws.
The author, known by the pseudonym Tianyi, was arrested in 2017 for her novel Occupy, which, according to the state, depicts “obscene sexual behavior between males.” The name “Boy’s love,” is for the genre of fiction that categorizes Tianyi’s work, among other works depicting same-gender relationships, is highly popular in China, and its popularity has grown astronomically in recent years. Authors in this genre walk a fine line, for as long as their writing only implies the existence of same-gender romance, they are in the clear, but if their writing becomes too frank or explicit, they can be prosecuted.
Image Via ABC
While LGBT rights in China are not so dismal as to disallow same-gender sexual activity (this was legalized in 1997, and homosexuality was removed from its classification as a mental illness in 2001), there are many legal limitations facing the LGBTQIA+ community in China. There are no national discrimination protections for queer citizens, same-gender couples are prohibited from marrying and adopting children, and households with couples of the same gender are not allowed the same protections as heterosexual couples.
Image Via Yahoo
Chinese censorship is notoriously stringent, and this is especially true for content featuring queer characters and themes. In 2015, the China Television Drama Production Industry Association released new guidelines, dictating that:
“No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”
More recently, in April, China’s premier social media platform, Sina Weibo, banned all LGBT discourse from the site. The ban was quickly reversed following intense backlash, however, this reversal did nothing at the government level, and the fact that it is legal for the site to attempt to institute such a ban is highly disturbing and frustrating.
Tianyi’s sentence has already provoked a huge response on Chinese social media, with many people now criticizing China’s general attitude towards sex and censorship, calling for a reformation of such laws.
Featured Image Via AP News.