Massively popular Chinese social platform WeChat quietly deleted the accounts of several LGBTQ groups organized at major Chinese universities, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The groups received warnings that they “violated community rules,” according to the Associated Press, but were not offered further explanation before their accounts were deleted.
The accounts aren’t viewable on WeChat, but users on Weibo (a Chinese analogue to Twitter) have collected a list of the several of the impacted groups, including ones run by students at Tsinghua University and Fudan University, Insider writes. We’ve reached out to WeChat’s owner and operator Tencent for comment on the deleted accounts and what rules the groups may have violated.
Homosexuality was removed from the Chinese Society of Psychiatry’s list of mental disorders in 2001, but that doesn’t mean people with queer identities aren’t still marginalized within the country. WeChat’s central role as more or less a default app used by many in China makes deleting these accounts a huge roadblock in the way of successful organizing for advocacy groups.
Speaking anonymously to the AP, one of the now-deleted group’s managers said that they had been encouraged by their university to shut down their page or remove mention of the university prior to WeChat stepping in. The New York Times has also reported on just how difficult it is to get the textbooks used by Chinese universities to reflect the actual realities of queer life in the country.