China’s largest online marketplace has been praised by the country’s LGBTQI+ community for recognising same-sex couples in its latest ad.
While the advertisement never explicitly refers to gay rights, it’s making waves online for a subtle reference to one of China’s biggest social taboos.
The 20-second spot released by Tmall – an ecommerce platform owned by Alibaba – sees a young man bring home another man for the holidays, introducing him as “Kelvin”.
Two women in the ad can be seen giggling and gossiping, while at the dinner table, the father hands Kelvin a bowl of soup to which he responds by saying, “Thanks, Dad”.
Watch the spot here.
The ad quickly went viral after it was posted on China’s social media website Weibo by organisation LoveMatters.
LoveMatters praised Tmall for supporting the LGBTQI+ movement, saying it is “important for the community to be visible, to be seen by the public, and to be recognized.”
The ad currently has millions of views and has over 4,500 comments, most of which are positive.
“Tmall is taking a smart stance by avoiding saying directly that it’s supportive [of gay couples] or not,” wrote one user.
“But it’s already a great step forward.”
In a statement to CNN Business, Alibaba did not reference the ad’s apparent gay subtext.
“Chinese New Year is a time for family reunion and inclusion, and the ad is a creative expression to celebrate such an occasion,” an Alibaba spokesperson said.
This isn’t the first time Alibaba has been praised for its pro-gay-rights stance. In 2015, Taobao, an Alibaba subsidiary, sponsored an online contest wit the gay dating app Blued to send couples from China to California to get married.