The Civil Aviation Flight University of China said in a statement that the students involved were not gay and were just doing “kuso,” or the Internet culture of parody.
“The students were too excited after passing a final exam to be able to fly airplanes as intern pilots early this year, so they did some boring things and were taking pictures by classmates just for kidding,” said Li Zhongliang, a press officer of the university.
The statement said the university told the three students, who enrolled in 2009, to take a break to adjust themselves because they were emotionally affected by the wide online disputes. That could represent a safety threat to their flight training, the university said.
“The flying training needs stable condition and good mental quality, and the students will not be banned from flying like online rumors said,” Li said.
Two pictures appeared online on September 15 where two male students in university uniforms are hugging and kissing. Another student is taking a photo of the pair in the other picture. He also was told to take a rest.
Many netizens assumed the pair were gay and sent them blessings.
The pictures caught wider public attention on Saturday, when an insider claimed on the microblog that the university had banned the three from flying for life because they were gay.
The insider’s microblog posts were retweeted more than 5,000 times, with most criticizing the university.
“How can the university launch sex education in the future if it punished the students only because they were gay?” said Lei Gang from Sichuan Province.
But some people also said the students should behave, especially while in uniform. “As soon as you take on the uniform, you are on behalf of a group,” they said online.
The students are regretful and said they would remember the lesson forever, Li said. He didn’t say why two men kissing should regret it.