China Is Censoring Rainbow Flags And Queer-Positive Eurovision Performances

Wait, if you take out the LGBTQ+ stuff, what’s left?
May 11, 2018, 5:35am

Eurovision has always been widely embraced by the international queer community. Hell, it’s lovingly called the gay olympics. But that love and unity doesn’t extend everywhere: Chinese television network Mango TV is facing criticism from local fans for censoring pro-LGBTQ+ imagery during the broadcast of the semi-finals in Lisbon.

Irish contestant Ryan O'Shaughnessy’s performance of his love song Together was cut from the broadcast because it depicted a same-sex relationship and featured two male dancers. Across the broadcast, rainbow flags in the audience were also blurred out.

The decisions were in line with wider restrictions around broadcasting pro-LGBTQ+ content in China, where in 2016 depictions of same-sex relationships on television were banned. The ban lumps in same-sex relationships with incest, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual violence.

This didn’t stop fans speaking out against the edits, with many taking to Weibo to call for a boycott of the channel. In the aftermath, Eurovision has terminated its agreement with the broadcaster.

China weren’t the only ones to take issue with the presentation. Russia also threatened not broadcast the singing contest due to the LGBTQ+ positive performance, although they ended up showing it in full.

Eugene Bushpepa from Albania’s performance was also cut from the show, although that was because the singer and a guitarist had visible tattoos. Earlier this year, Chinese authorities restricted the depiction of “subculture” elements on TV, which includes displaying ink.