A woman in East China's Anhui Province was given a 10-year sentence for writing and distributing homoerotic books, sparking discussion on Chinese cyberspace over whether the punishment is excessive.
The woman, surnamed Liu, commonly writing under the pen name Tianyi, came to the notice of police after one of her books, Gongzhan, went viral in 2017.
According to Wuhu police, the book describes obscene sexual behavior between males, and the content, which is full of perverted sexual acts like violation and abuse, was sold online several thousand times over a period of a few months.
The report said that, apart from Gongzhan, Tianyi has distributed over 7,000 pornographic books, most of which were related to homosexuality, gaining illegal profits of 150,000 yuan ($21,624) as of the arrest.
Liu was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Wuhu court on October 31.
However, many netizens, including Li Yinhe, a renowned Chinese sexologist and sociologist, questioned whether the sentence was excessive. "The author deserves sympathy. She did violate criminal law, but even a one-year sentence is too much, not to mention 10 years," Li commented on Sina Weibo on Saturday.
A Weibo user posted her personal experience to question the sentence, saying that she was sexually assaulted and injured on the streets of Beijing in May 2018, but the perpetrator was sentenced to only 8 months in prison.
An employee surnamed Xu from the court told The Beijing News on Saturday that the sentence was in accordance with the 1998 judicial interpretation.
Deng Xueping, a lawyer based in Shanghai, told the newspaper that this judgement "was determined by a standard from 20 years ago," and, "our judicial explanation should advance with time."
"If judges think content related to homosexuality and indecency has a baneful impact on the society, they might choose a heavy sentence within the legal range," Lü Xiaoquan, a Beijing-based lawyer, told the Global Times on Sunday, noting that social influence is also under consideration of the court.
Liu has filed an appeal to the Intermediate People's Court of Wuhu after the first judgment, said The Beijing News.