In a sign that social attitudes towards same-sex relationships are gradually changing, state-funded newspaper The Beijing News has invested just over $AUD5.6 million in Blued— a popular gay dating app.
The service is the most popular of its kind in China and boasts over 27 million users, with 7 million logging on daily.
“The gay business is a piece of virgin territory in China, and we hope to become a leader of this lucrative market,” says Blued founder Geng Le.
“The substantial spending ability of gays and the funding support we got indicate the strong power of the so-called pink economy.”
Yet while the gay market is seen as extremely lucrative, depictions of same-sex relationships in the media are still heavily censored, according to the Financial Times.
A popular online drama called Heroin was pulled last year by streaming websites after just a month because it featured a teenage gay romance.
The government body that regulates the media announced last year that online producers will now have to submit videos for review before they can be uploaded.
“A film can’t be broadcast in China if it features an LGBT romance as the main storyline, or has a character advocating for LGBT rights,” said gay rights activist Xiaogang Wei.
Stephen Zhang, a volunteer at the Beijing LGBT Centre says apps such as Blued give the gay community a way to meet up safely.
“It’s still difficult for people to come out who work in the government, army and state-owned companies,” says Zhang.
Blued founder Le said in a statement that he hoped Blued would “continue to push forward social progress”.