Eurovision ditches Chinese channel after LGBT act gets censored

The online streaming platform also censored another performance because the singer had tattoos

A Chinese broadcaster has been banned from airing the rest of the Eurovision Song Contest after censoring a pair of performances this week in order to save their viewers from having to experience LGBT themes and tattoos.

The entries from Ireland and Albania went unheard for Chinese viewers watching the contest’s first semi-final via Mango TV, a popular online streaming platform that is licensed under the powerful Hunan Broadcasting System, China’s second biggest television network after only CCTV.

So, what was it in these performances that upset Chinese censors? Well, Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy sang a song which featured a pair of male dancers acting out a gay love story:

While Albania’s Eugent Bushpepa simply has some tattoos on his arm:

Along with these two performances being cut out of the broadcast, viewers also noticed that a rainbow flag seen waving during another performance had been blurred out by censors.

After hearing about all of this, the European Broadcasting Union, the contest’s organizer, decided to take action, announcing that Mango TV would be banned from broadcasting the second semi-final and the grand finals.

“This is not in line with the EBU’s values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music,” the union said about its decision.

O’Shaughnessy was quick to praise the EBU’s decision, saying:

“From the very start we have just said love is love. It doesn’t matter whether it’s between two guys and two girls or a guy and a girl. I think it’s a really important decision by the EBU, they haven’t taken it lightly, and I think it’s a move in the right direction I’m happy about it.”

China has long banned depictions of homosexuality in its media. Back in 2016, as part of a crackdown on “vulgar, immoral, and unhealthy content,” LGBT content was banned from television shows in the country, classified as “abnormal sexual behavior.” The following year, gay content was also banned from online videos, falling into that same category.

Last month, Weibo, one of China’s most popular and important social media networks, announced a similar ban on gay content, but was quickly forced to reverse course after tens of thousands of netizens protested, rallying around the viral hashtag: #iamgay.

While China’s censorship of homosexuality is a well-worn topic, its fight against tattoos gets much less press. Chinese actors are reportedly banned from having tattoos and, back in March, members of China’s national football team were even forced to wear bandages over their arms and legs in order to conceal their tats.