Recently, China  arrested 20 women who write slash fiction—same sex romances featuring men that are usually written by women for women. Allegedly, the government is trying to do away with all pornographic content, but it seems to be specifically targeting gay-romance fiction. This apparently isn’t the first time it’s happened, as the Chinese government arrested women back in 2011 for the same thing. 

The government’s reason for doing this? According to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, “While slash fans elsewhere are free to indulge their obsession, in China they’re labeled deviants and the creators are accused by police of ‘advocating homosexuality, violence, and gore.’” 

China’s attempt to clean up at the Internet might seem laughable, but it’s pretty serious. If it is to be believed, “…between March and May 2013, Chinese authorities bragged of seizing 180,000 online publications and closing down 5.6 million illegal publications. Earlier that year, a crackdown claimed 225 websites, 4,000 web channels, and 30,000 blogs.”

The Internet is the last place where human beings can really be free and find other people with similar interests. That includes women who want to read and write gay-romance fiction. Clearly, though, there is more to it — and that comes down to the bigoted beliefs towards gay individuals. 

 And according to the Daily Dot, it’s definitely not just a Chinese problem. 

Recently U.S. media had a field day with the non-news that Johnlock fanfiction is extremely popular in China. The international Sherlock fandom is used to coming under media scrutiny and even ridicule from unexpected places. But the titillating shock value of straight women writing gay male romance has much more weighty implications in some parts of the world. In some countries, such as China and Australia, the legality of erotic fanfiction is questionable, and male/male slash and yaoi nearly always receive a harsher response from authorities than its heterosexual counterpart. In Canada, a manga fan was jailed for months in 2012 for transporting yaoi across the U.S. border before being released. 

This is all irritating. Surely there are more productive things to do than discriminate against gay romance? Even in straight romance and erotica fiction (both of which I am a reader and writer), I know there are “deviant” elements in those. Yet, apparently, because they feature straight characters — they are OK. There isn’t any logic to this, just a simple hatred of a different, harmless sexuality. Instead of focusing on homosexuality, the focus should be on those who actually harm others — those who take advantage of children, and rape and sexual assault. 

Although I don’t particularly read “Boy love” fiction, you’ll recall that I support all creative expression and freedom and dislike censorship. I hope Chinese men and women, along those in other countries (including the U.S.) continue to fight against this ridiculousness.