The ruling Chinese Communist Party has issued written guidelines to revive the practice of calling each other ‘comrade’ at party meetings.
The term – ‘tongzhi’ in Chinese – was commonly used among communists in the time of Mao and Lenin, the South China Morning Post reports.
But after falling out of favour among political operatives, ‘tongzhi’ was adopted by LGBT+ Chinese people to show solidarity between each other – eventually falling into more common usage to describe gay people.
In 2012 an authoritative Chinese dictionary found itself the target of criticism after it explicitly refused to acknowledge the term’s second meaning.
“We knew about the usage but we can't include it,” one of the authors told the BBC at the time.
“You can use the word whichever way you like, but we won't put it into a standard dictionary because we don't want to promote these things. We don't want to draw attention to these things,” he said.
The South China Morning Post reports that the Communist Party made the decision in order to promote equality, rather than have people addressed by their titles which enforces a hierarchy.