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In China, Gay Erotica Gets 10 Years in Prison, Rape Gets 5

In China, Gay Erotica Gets 10 Years in Prison, Rape Gets 5

China makes homophobic crackdown on pornography

China makes homophobic crackdown on pornography despite it’s lenience on sexual assault.

Chinese erotic writer Liu, better known by her online alias Tianyi, was sentenced to ten and a half years in prison for "producing and selling pornographic materials." Liu, known only by her alias and her last name, was sentenced last month but the news was only reported Friday, stirring outrage on social media. While pornography is illegal in China, many are calling Liu's decade-long sentence extreme, attributing the harshness to homophobia.

Liu's 2017 novel Occupy, which sold 7,000 copies online, followed an illicit affair between a student and teacher and was, according to TV station Anhui, full of violence and "graphic depictions of male homosexual sex scenes." Global Times, a state-owned newspaper, said the novel depicts "obscene sexual behaviour between males" and was "full of perverted sexual acts like violence and abuse." China's anti-pornography laws are extremely mercurial, giving the country the power to sentence lawbreakers with anything from a few months in prison to a life sentence.

Many on social media pointed toward the hypocrisy of Liu's harsh sentence in comparison to China's lax punishments for sexual assault. A Weibo user who'd been the victim of sexual assault said her attacker only received an eight-month prison sentence. Other critics noted a case in which a Yunnan province official was only sentenced to five years in prison after abducting and raping a four-year-old girl, a sentence that was doubled to eight years following public outrage.

Liu was arrested last November and confessed to writing the book, revealing to authorities that she'd made 150,000 yuan ($30,000) from Occupy and her other work on Chinese social media platform Weibo. Four other figures involved in publishing the novel also received fines and jail times ranging from 10 months to 10 and a half years. The length of Liu's sentence has more to do with sales than content: according to China's laws, selling more than 5,000 copies of a pornographic work is an "especially serious circumstance" punishable by "imprisonment for not less than 10 years or life," according to a statement from China's supreme court.

China is currently engaging in a massive crackdown on pornography, promising citizens $118,000 for reporting illicit content to the police. The country also recently deleted over 10,000 social media accounts for sharing obscene and "politically harmful information."

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