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'Friends' episodes with LGBTQ+ content censored in China

Fans in China were excited to learn the classic 90s sitcom, “Friends” were made available again on China’s major streaming platforms last week. However, viewers of the popular show were outraged to learn that certain episodes with LGBTQ+ storylines are being censored. 

Specifically, the Chinese version of the show is missing scenes and dialogue referring to topics of homosexuality and sex. 

The site Bilibili seems to have erased all references to Ross’s (David Schwimmer) ex-wife who is a lesbian. Other sites have reportedly removed a scene of Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) kissing on New Year's Eve. 

Fans are also report a change in the dialogue in the show's Chinese-language subtitles, such as changing a line about women having "multiple orgasms" to "women have endless gossips."

The China Communist Party holds much power when it comes to regulating media for content. Content that does not line up with national interest is heavily edited or omitted entirely. 

Some of the main reasons for censorship include belittling cultural traditions, undermining religious policy, and endangerment of social morality. 

In 2015, the People’s Republic of China banned TV shows and films depicting what they consider “unnormal sexual relationships” including homosexuality.

“Friends” is extremely popular in China with some even sharing the show helped them learn English. 

In an effort to voice their opposition, fans of the show took to the Chinese social media site Weibo to protest the changes, even making the hashtag #FriendsCensored to the top of the site's trending topics. 

Many are calling for a boycott of the new Chinese iteration and are finding ways to obtain pirated copies of the show from sites featuring the uncensored version. 

However, CNN reports that the hashtag was removed on the platform by Saturday, now showing the message: “This topic is not shown according to relevant laws and regulations.” 

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