China's most popular social media giant has removed accounts on LGBT issues run by university students and non-governmental groups.
WeChat sent account holders a notice that they were violating the rules, but did not provide details, according to the founder of an LGBT group, who asked not to be identified. He said dozens of accounts were closed, all around 10 pm on Tuesday, the AP news agency reported.
WeChat operator Tencent Holding Ltd. confirmed that it received an email seeking comment, but did not immediately respond.
The Communist Party decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, but gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and other sexual minorities still face discrimination.
The content of the WeChat accounts, which included personal stories and photos from group events, were deleted, according to the group's founder.
University officials asked students two months ago to shut down LGBT social media groups or avoid mentioning the names of their schools, according to the founder of the LGBT group. He said officials told universities in eastern Jiangsu province to investigate women's rights groups and sexual minorities to "maintain stability."
Some groups have organized film festivals and other public events, but they have declined.
One of the most prominent, the Shanghai Pride, canceled events last year and scrapped future plans without explanation after 11 years of operation.