Outcry over 10-year term for ‘obscene’ novels author

Reuters, BEIJING

Tue, Nov 20, 2018 - Page 6

A Chinese court’s 10-year jail term for an author of a homoerotic book found guilty of profiting from selling “obscene” literature has been met with disbelief among some Internet users who question how the crime could warrant so severe a punishment.

The author, surnamed Liu (劉), who goes by the pen name “Tianyi,” was found guilty on Oct. 31 by Wuhu County Court in Anhui Province after she self-published a book, titled Gongzhan, that “obscenely and in detail described gay male-male acts,” according to state media.

The book tells of the sexual relationship between a teacher and his male student, the Global Times said.

The court ruled that the strict sentence was enforced due to her having made 150,000 yuan (US$21,600) by selling more than 7,000 copies of “pornographic” books, most related to homosexuality, according to Wuhu city police cited by the newspaper.

Liu has filed an appeal.

The case went viral on Chinese social media over the weekend as commentators asked how such a punishment made sense when some sexual assault cases often drew lighter sentences.

One user shared an article about a case from 2010 when a man was jailed for 18 months for imprisoning children and commented: “I don’t understand the law, but there have been people who did things as inhuman as this and only get a year and a half.

“Why can’t our vast and abundant China tolerate the word ‘sex’?” the user added.

Some commentators suggested Liu’s book should not be banned, as gay erotic content known as “bl” or “BoysLove” is important for Chinese men to discover their sexuality.

“I also watch ‘bl,’ because my family has traditional values,” one user wrote about the case. “Seeing this news today, and based on this kind of criminal law, I expect we will have to wait thousands of years for homosexuality to be legalized.”

Pornography has long been illegal in China, but in recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has intensified efforts to clear away what it sees as inappropriate content, introducing new legislation, rewards and punishments to help its aims.

Additional reporting by AFP