ADDED ON: 09/26/2021

China’s Crackdown Has a Straight Eye for the Queer Guy

9/17/21 | Bloomberg

China officially has a “male feminization” problem. That’s not some throwaway line or social media meme. It’s actual policy from the nation’s education ministry, which plans to strengthen physical education for the nation’s adolescent boys to combat the phenomenon. Beijing’s rewriting of social norms doesn’t end there, and will continue for years as President Xi Jinping leads a neo-Cultural Revolution that has already hit the education, technology and gaming sectors and is destined to spread further. His “common prosperity” doctrine — aimed at evening out the country’s wealth gap — is likely to reverse decades of social progress and spell disaster for minority groups that fail to conform. In this new society-wide identity crisis, effeminate men are now in the eye of Xi’s gathering storm. That intolerance has already started. In July, Tencent Holdings Ltd. deleted dozens of LGBTQ accounts run by university students from its WeChat social media platform. Comments in favor of the shutdowns were allowed to be posted without hindrance, a sign that Beijing is willing to allow homophobic discourse to continue. The company didn’t respond to emails from Bloomberg Opinion on the issue. And this past week, authorities postponed the Hong Kong Gay Games citing the pandemic, with pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho calling the event “disgraceful” and “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” that could pose a threat to national security. While the government has shown a certain amount of tolerance toward the gay community, including allowing commercial enterprises that target the rainbow economy to flourish, it’s also been willing to censor content when doing so suits its needs — cutting most of the homosexual references from Oscar-winning film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ for example. That gay erasure won’t stop at social media accounts and Hollywood movies. Beijing is determined to increase its birth rate, pushing families to have three kids in a sharp turnaround from its infamous one-child policy. Surrogacy and adoption do happen in same-sex relationships, yet gay and lesbian couples don’t fit into the government’s vision for big happy families. To be clear, last year’s update to the Civil Code doesn’t prohibit gay parenting, and simply states that “adoption shall follow the principle that is most beneficial to the adoptee.” The LGBTQ community isn’t alone. China’s feminist movement has also been hit with the twin blows of social-media censorship and tolerance of vitriol directed at it. And the nation’s MeToo movement suffered severe setbacks over the past month when prosecutors dropped charges against an Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. employee accused of rape, releasing him after serving the maximum 15 days for a lesser charge of indecency. Then on Sept. 15 a former intern at China’s national television broadcaster lost a civil court case in which she alleged a host at the station sexually harassed her. It’s important to note that a feminized man isn’t necessarily gay — this is a stereotype that Western and Eastern societies have made great progress in eliminating. Yet recent moves to cut LGBTQ discourse in China and promote three-child families don’t augur well for sexual or gender identity minorities. It’s only a small step for Beijing to endorse, or at least allow, homophobic discrimination to occur as the nation reorients itself.


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