Boy's Love: A Chinese Defense Of The Right To Odd Romance Novels - And Pornography

Boy's Love: A Chinese Defense Of The Right To Odd Romance Novels - And Pornography
Li Yinhe

Recently several authors of a BL fiction website were arrested. The injustice is so glaringly obvious that I can’t stop myself from saying something about this.

The so-called BL (Boy's Love) fiction is a particular interest of a minority of people. The concept comes from Japan: it refers to female-oriented fiction featuring idealized romantic relationships between two males, mostly as manga works.

These women consider themselves as “rotten” -- rotten in Japanese meaning “hopeless.” It’s a self-deprecating way of describing the fact that these women are hopelessly caught in an appreciation and a passion for homosexual romance. These women are not lesbians -- they love the opposite sex. So why are they drawn to this love between men? It does sound a bit odd, but to be odd does not constitute a reason for arrest or prison.

In my analysis, the formation of such a preference has various causes. First, the young girls like pretty boys, a most natural and justifiable tendency. Second, they don’t wish these boys to fall in love with girls other than themselves. Therefore, they tolerate one boy loving another because only this will prevent another girl from becoming the object of their love.

Third, they love these boys without being able to have sex with them since these boys have a sexual orientation towards another male. A lot of these so-called rotten women actually come from families with a very conservative sexual upbringing and are not themselves dissipated. To love a homosexual is a non-sexual love since the homosexual will not have sex with girls.

Fourth, some of these women wish to stay immersed in love without getting married. Loving a homosexual means that it will never be translated into a marriage and they can thus enjoy this love for love's sake.

All in all, no matter how the orientation for Boy's Love originates and however odd the rotten women’s passion may seem, they are not to be discriminated against -- just as discrimination is wrong against homosexuals, or the left-handed, or people who enjoy a certain type of book or work of art.

Sex as evil

Moreover, the police arrests were based on the provisions of China’s Criminal Law concerning pornographic products. This regulation is a living dinosaur in today’s world -- it’s virtually inexistent in most countries. It’s an outdated law belonging to the ethical standards of the Middle Ages in Europe and China’s Cultural Revolution.

In those times, sex was regarded as evil. Pornographic products were considered an ugly form of expression of such evil, they were to be strictly prohibited and destroyed. People who produced and disseminated pornographic products were to be arrested and penalized.

Up to the 1990s, China still had cases where the death penalty was imposed. For instance, a piece of news from the People’s Daily in 1994 reported “Since early last year till this September, the city authorities have seized half a million contraband books and magazines as well as more than 60,000illegal tapes, videos and laser discs. More than 80 investigations combating pornography and concerning illegal publishing activities were undertaken. More than 100 persons were taken into custody, investigated and jailed. Among the three dozen people convicted, one has been condemned to death, two to the death penalty with reprieve, and one to life imprisonment.”

In Europe and North America where the pornographic industry generates over $1 billion annually, a lot of people would have been shot, were the Chinese standard applied. This is why such a judgment is appalling.

Recently the punishment for pornographic web publishing was lightened in China. A recent felon was sentenced to four months of detention. Nevertheless, however short the sentence is, its mere existence remainsappalling in the 21st Century, and any such conviction should be regarded as a serious violation of human rights.

Pornographic products belong to the scope of speech. They are the output of human imagination, not action, and therefore to be protected according to the Constitution’s statements about freedom of speech, as well as freedom of publication.

There were times in the past when China’s Constitution was a joke. During the Cultural Revolution even the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China was beaten to death. Are we to repeat the same errors again?

Most of all, the consumption of pornographic commodities is an adult’s right. One fundamental reason for this is that sexual activity itself is not harmful. Nor are the pornographic products that are simply the expression of sex in words or images.

In other parts of the world, measures are taken to prohibit and prevent minors from consuming pornographic goods, but they do not deny adults the right to access them.

We should show our solidarity with the arrested web BL novel writers and save them from prosecution. Furthermore, we should fight for the abolition of the pornographic products clause in the Criminal Law to defend the consumer rights of Chinese adults.

Li Yinhe is a well-known Chinese woman sexologist and professor of sociology.

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How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.

But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Activist in front of democracy monument in Thailand.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

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