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"Sina Weibo's original decision simply made no sense - why link homosexuality with other illegal activities", said Xiaogang Wei, a leading LGBT rights advocate in China. While some posts were censored, the hashtag that translates to #Iamgaynotapervert was viewed more than 1.35 million times.

Weibo, the popular social network platform in China, is now systematically deleting all content it deems to be violent or homosexual as part of its drive to comply with the new cybersecurity policies imposed by the government.

But the Twitter-like platform backtracked on Monday, stating on its administrators' official account: "This clean-up of games and manga is no longer directed at homosexual content, but is primarily to clean up pornographic and bloody, violent content".

Starting Friday, Weibo users found a block on hashtags related to "slash" fiction - fan's depictions of steamy same-sex pairs like Thor/Loki or Sherlock/Watson.

The Beijing International Film Festival last week removed gay-themed "Call Me by Your Name" from its lineup.

On Saturday, "The Gay Voice", a Weibo account with some 230,000 followers, announced that it would suspend operations.

Despite ham-fisted attempts to censor the LGBT community online, China is fast becoming the centre of the gay hook-up world.

The affair has highlighted the cultural gap between younger Chinese more open to LGBT issues and "China's older generation - mostly very conservative 40-year-old men - who are now the main force of our society because they control the resources", said Xiao Tie, a nickname, of the Beijing LGBT Center.

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In a notice posted on Friday, Weibo said it would be "cleaning up " content on the Twitter-like platform "in order to further create a healthy and harmonious community environment".

Micro-blogging website Weibo has begun a clampdown on content it broadly sees as offensive.

In an usual move, Weibo then backtracked on its decision, and said in an announcement (link in Chinese) that its clean-up would no longer target any gay content, without offering more details.

Many quoted China's constitution and laws about the protection of minorities. "It's unbelievable to see this happen now, with everyone - straight or gay, celebrities or ordinary people - using the hashtag and joining in".

In the southwestern province of Sichuan, a radio host posted a viral video of LGBT rights activists offering free hugs on a busy street while wearing rainbow-printed eye masks.

The decision seemed to be a response to efforts by the Chinese government previous year to crack down on web content.

With Weibo lifting its censorship, "The Gay Voice" posted a new message Monday afternoon, thanking all supporters and promising its return.