“Mango TV, a state broadcaster run by central China's Hunan province, pixelated rainbow flags and cut a performance by Irish singer Ryan O'Shaughnessy that included two male dancers portraying a gay relationship,” the news agency reports.
The country's LGBT+ community condemned the censorship and called the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for halting its relationships with the channel. The broadcaster blacked-out the performance of Ireland and Albania, which Global Times, Chinese state tabloid, stated contained tattoos an "LGBT elements".
“Many of China's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups expressed dismay over censorship by the channel, which is known to be relatively progressive,” the message says.
"Isn't this a bit much?! Nearly twenty years ago Hunan TV first had a gay interview show... How are they now going in reverse?" China Rainbow Media Awards, which cooperates with Chinese media to develop LGBT+ coverage, said on Weibo.
The EBU stated that it terminated its relationship with Mango TV during the contest this year.
"This is not in line with the EBU's values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music," the EBU representatives said.
It was unclear whether Mango TV’s censorship of the content was made independently or by the order of the regulators. Mango TV and China’s TV and radio regulator did not reply to request for comment.
The incident happened after Sina Weibo canceled a ban on some LGBT+ content last month on the back of a widespread outcry online which included calls to dump Sina shares. Then the company stated that it was working to clean up the Internet of content banned by Government's censorship directives. Under the rule of Xi Jinping, Chinese President, China intensified the control over the content in traditional and online media, enhanced and holds internet giants accountable as they fail to monitor content.
“Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but activists say that conservative attitudes in some parts of society have prompted occasional government clampdowns,” the news agency wrote.