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Chinese broadcaster censors LGBT symbols at Eurovision

By George Pierpoint, BBC UGC and Social News
Kerry Allen, BBC Monitoring

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  • Eurovision Song Contest
image copyrightMango TV

The Eurovision Song Contest may be the ultimate in camp spectacle, but for viewers in China some LGBT elements of the singing competition have reportedly been censored.

Mango TV, which broadcast the first semi-final of Eurovision on Tuesday, and is one of China's most popular TV channels, has come under fire by some on social media for apparently blurring rainbow flags and censoring tattoos.

According to the state-owned news organisation Global Times, Mango TV also decided not to air performances by Irish or Albanian delegations during Tuesday's event for various reasons.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has now barred Mango TV from broadcasting the second semi-final and the final.

The EBU said censorship was not in line with its values of diversity.

The Voice of Homosexuality, a verified account on Chinese social media platform Weibo, shared a number of still images of some of the censored performances.

image copyrightWeibo

The account reflected that the broadcaster's decision to remove references to homosexuality was a "major step backwards" for a network which has previously been more liberal in its approach to the representation of LGBT characters.

The post points out Mango TV, which was previously know as Hunan TV, broadcasts China's most popular show, Happy Camp, which has previously starred gay performers.

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An account with tens of thousands of followers called Global Gay News also posted on Weibo to call the censorship "absurd" and ask "why is the rainbow flag not permitted?"

image copyrightHunan TV

Responding to the post, some Weibo users called for people to "boycott Mango TV," and one user said they "absolutely won't be watching Mango TV next month".

Others said they were "going to rush out and buy a rainbow umbrella".

Weibo users also discussed Mango TV's decision not to air Ireland's entry into this year's competition.

Ryan O'Shaughnessy will be representing Ireland at the final in Lisbon on Saturday with a song about the end of a relationship. His performance was accompanied by two male dancers.

Recently there have been moves by the Chinese authorities to restrict the posting of LGBT content on social media, and in 2016 the authorities banned depictions of gay people on television.

Weibo user Mr Tito shared the full video of the Irish entry, referencing the missing performance on Mango TV.

image copyrightWeibo

Mango TV also reportedly did not broadcast the pop-rock performance by Albanian singer Eugent Bushpepa.

Many Weibo commenter's suggested censors had taken issue with the exposed tattoos of Bushpepa and his band mates.

In January, the Chinese authorities took steps to restrict the broadcast of "subculture" elements, which included rules against displaying tattoos on TV.

image copyrightThomas Hanses/EBU
image captionEugent Bushpepa performing his song "Mall"

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