The eight-page document
on "vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content" posted on the website of the China Television Drama Production Industry Association, was dated December 31 but was widely reported in Chinese state media this week.
It comes after a popular same-sex drama "Addicted Heroin" was pulled from online video streaming websites last week, unleashing an uproar on social media
. The show can now only be viewed on YouTube,
which is blocked in China.
As well as homosexuality, the guidelines deemed extramarital affairs, one-night stands and underage love off limits.
"No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on," the regulations state.
The document also listed a wide range of topics forbidden on TV, including those that might damage the country's image, promote lavish lifestyles, undermine national unity and illustrate feudalism and superstitions.
It's the latest example of what appears to be a government campaign for stricter morality in China and greater control over public life.
The Shanghai Auto Show banned "car babes" -- scantily clad models who in previous years had posed provocatively on car hoods to draw crowds -- while a major cosplay convention said it would levy a fine of $800 on women who reveal "more than two centimeters of cleavage."
And in December 2014, government censors pulled a TV show set in the Tang Dynasty off air for the ample bosoms it featured. It later re-appeared with the cleavage blurred out.
CNN's calls to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) the country's top broadcasting and publishing regulator went unanswered.
Gay community upset
The new policy has angered China's gay community, which says the guidelines are out of step with a country beginning to accept same-sex relationships.
Chen Qiuyan, a gay activist and college student, told CNN she was "absolutely furious" after reading the new rule. She has sued
China's Ministry of Education over how textbooks portray homosexuality.
"Who are these high-up creeps identifying same-sex (relationships) as abnormal? They have no common sense," she said.
In 2001, homosexuality was removed from an official list of mental illnesses for clinical treatment in China. This followed a 1997 decision to decriminalize it.
The gay community has made strides in social acceptance in the past two decades, with young gay and lesbian activists pushing for more rights and recognition. But the stigma remains, with considerable family pressure to carry on the family line.
According to a 2015 survey by U.S. research group Pew, 61% of China's population said that homosexuality was unacceptable.