Rare win for China's LGBT community after censorship U-turn by Sina Weibo

Runners of the Shanghai Pride Run make signs with their fingers while wearing rainbow shoelaces at the start of the race in Shanghai on June 18, 2016.

Beijing (CNN)One of China's biggest social media companies on Monday reversed a decision to censor gay content -- a rare victory for the country's nascent but increasingly vocal LGBT rights movement.

Bowing to intense public pressure, Sina Weibo -- often called China's Twitter -- said its latest campaign to "clean up" the platform would no longer target gay-themed content.
"We thank all for your discussions and suggestions," it said in a brief notice posted on its website.
    The microblogging service, which boasts nearly 400 million active users, had vowed Friday to remove all gay-themed cartoons and videos -- along with pornographic and violent material -- to comply with Chinese laws and regulations.
    "Sina Weibo's original decision simply made no sense -- why link homosexuality with other illegal activities," said Xiaogang Wei, a leading LGBT rights advocate in China.
    "They targeted the entire LGBT community in that notice," he added. "We must pressure these companies and show them it's not easy to discriminate against an entire community -- no matter who orders them to do it."
     A Chinese man lights a candle at a memorial vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, at Adam's Bar on June 14, 2016 in Beijing, China.
    Weibo's announcement came amid an intensifying government effort to rein in the country's fast-growing social media networks to create what President Xi Jinping has promised to be "a clean cyberspace."
    Online content that has fallen victim to tightened censorship rules includes feminist voices, hip hop music and "vulgar" jokes -- a trend that's affected some of China's biggest and hottest online platforms, and alarmed business analysts and rights monitors.

    'Speaking up can bring about change'

    "The Gay Voice," a popular Weibo page with a focus on gay rights and artwork around the w