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Photography Joseph Chan

The author of a Chinese homoerotic novel will spend 10 years in jail

Many social media users think the decision is unfair

A writer of erotic fiction has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for writing and selling a gay erotic novel.

The book entitled Occupy details a sexual relationship between a student and his teacher. It was promoted on Weibo, a Chinese social media site, and sold on Taobao, a popular shopping site.

According to the report in the state-owned Global Times paper, the writer had written the books under then pen name Tianyi but has now been identified by her real last name Liu. The article described the plot as: “obscene sexual behaviour between males,” and said the book was “full of perverted sexual acts like violence and abuse”.

After being arrested in November last year, the author told the police how she had made $30,000 profit selling Occupy and other erotic books online. However, pornography is illegal in China. Books, videos, and audio content are all banned under the 20 year old law. As such four other people involved in the publication of the book received fines and jail time between 10 months and 10 and a half years.

There’s been backlash online about the decision which many think is too heavy-handed considering some sexual assault cases result in much smaller prison sentences. Almost 2 million posts on Weibo have been made under the #Tianyi hashtag. A renowned sexologist in the country Li Yinhe wrote that the author “deserves sympathy”. “She did violate criminal law, but even a one-year sentence is too much, not to mention 10 years.”

Tianyi’s case appears to be a part of a major crackdown on porn in China – the government recently offered people $11,800 as reward money to give to people who report adult content to the police.

Asia is currently experiencing a wave in publications of homoerotica. In the on-the-rise genre known as ‘Boys’ Love’ most of the comics, books and TV shows are written by heterosexual women and it has a mostly female fan base. It has found widespread popularity in Japan and Thailand.