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Chinese author jailed for publishing gay erotic novel

In China, an erotic novelist has been sentenced to over a decade in prison for writing and selling a gay porn novel, reports the Guardian.

The book in question, Gongzhan (which translates to ‘Occupy’ in English), was written by an author who writes under the pseudonym, Tianyi, and sold through Chinese online shopping site Taobao. The story reportedly follows a forbidden love affair between a teacher and a student.

Authorities in the Anhui city of Wuhu, where Tiyani (whose real surname is Lui) was sentenced, said the novel contained scenes describing ‘obscene’ sexual behaviour between males. According to the state-run newspaper Global Times, police were first alerted to the book in 2017 after it went viral and sold 7000 copies online, earning an illegal profit of RMB 150,000 (A$29,800).

Lui’s sentencing stems from a judicial interpretation dating back to 1998, according to the South China Morning Post. This states that if an author sells more than 5000 copies of pornographic books, or makes more than RMB 10,000 (A$1900) from them, it becomes an ‘serious circumstance’ that warrants a sentence of imprisonment for not less than a decade or life.

Shanghai lawyer Deng Xueping said the judicial interpretation of pornography laws needs to be revised because it is ‘out of touch’ and added, ‘the social harm of pornographic books might not be as grave as the legislators had thought initially. Nowadays, pornography is ubiquitous’.

Four other people involved in the publication of the book also received jail sentences ranging between 10 months and 10 and a half years, as well as fines, according to a report from the ABC. Liu and one other person are reportedly appealing against the sentence.

Although homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997, a UN survey in 2016 found that only 5% of the country’s LGBTQIA+ community had come out publicly.

PEN International campaigns manager Sahar Halaimzai referred to Lui’s sentence as ‘yet another episode in China’s draconian crackdown on free expression and human rights’.

 

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Category: International news