A Court in China Just Jailed a Woman For Writing a Homoerotic Novel

The world of self-published erotica has caught the attention of Chinese censors.
November 19, 2018, 1:00pm
collage of a person reading and guys kissing
Left image by VirtualWolf via Flickr, right image by See-ming Lee via Flickr

It's easy, if you live in a country with a relatively large amount of freedom, to take stuff for granted. Stuff like buying chewing gum (ahem, looking at you Singapore), or being out in public with a member of the opposite sex (Saudi Arabia). Well, if you're in China, we can now add self-publishing a homoerotic novel where two gay guys have sex to that list.

A woman from China's Anhui province was just sentenced to 10 years behind bars for penning a piece of softcore literary erotica that sold 7,000 copies, according to reports in China's state-owned media.


Now, if you're part of any particularly obsessive strain of pop culture fandom, this will surely strike a nerve. Could you imagine the news if some teenaged girls got locked up for the better part of their young lives for some One Direction "Larry" shipping fan-fiction? Do you think E.L. James is muttering "that could've been me" as she counts the $95 million USD she made off her totally cringy but insanely successful Twilight fan-fics she turned into Fifty Shads of Grey?

It makes you wonder if China will ever have its own runway hit sub-dom romance series (the answer: probably not).

So, what happened here? Well this author, she is only identified by her surname, Liu, was charged with publishing a book that "obscenely and in detail described gay male-male acts." Now, it seems that the real issue here is the "obscene" part of the charge. Homosexuality isn't illegal in China, although it's not without stigma and forced conversion therapy either. But pornography, on the other hand, is—and this so-called "inappropriate content" is something of a pet-peeve of Chinese censors at the moment.

Just last month, authorities deleted nearly 10,000 social media accounts on popular sites like Weibo because they, and I'm quoting the administration here, "challenged the moral bottom line of society and damaged the healthy growth of the majority of youngsters by spreading vulgar pornography and violating good social customs."

It's gotten so bad that Chinese social media users started to say that "winter has come," which is sorta weird because that definitely sounds like a reference to Game of Thrones, a series that's wildly popular in mainland China despite being chock full of nudity and sex. And with no signs of slowing down, I doubt we'll be seeing the next Blue is the Warmest Color coming out of China anytime soon.