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China Bans Parts of First Gay Pride Festivities

China Bans Parts of First Gay Pride Festivities

Organizers of the first Gay Pride Festival in China were told two of their events must be canceled. Officials warned owners of two venues, one planning to host a play and one screening a film, that they would encounter "severe consequences" should their plans not be called off. The orders came on the same day a state-run newspaper referred to the festival in Shanghai as being of "profound significance."

Organizers of the first Gay Pride Festival in China were told two of their events must be canceled. Officials warned owners of two venues, one planning to host a play and one screening a film, that they would encounter "severe consequences" should their plans not be called off. The orders came on the same day a state-run newspaper referred to the festival in Shanghai as being of "profound significance."

In China, homosexuality was illegal until 1997, and considered, by officials, to be a mental illness until 2001. Since those changes, the government's approach to homosexuality is closer to "don't condemn, but don't promote". Thus, the front-page story discussing the number of gay people there may be in Shanghai, and the China Daily, a state-run publication, editorial highlighting the tolerance of a city such as Shanghai, appeared representative of a shift in the direction of attitudes with greater tolerance. 

Only a couple hours after that story came out, Shanghai's officials were already at businesses with plans to host events as parts of Pride Week with orders for the businesses to cancel. The organizers of the festival have become confused and frustrated because now they are unsure what exactly is going on. Their calls to the involved officials have yet to be answered. This may be more a result of nervousness of the authorities regarding public events out of their control than regarding the officials' attitude toward homosexuality.

What this incident shows is that in China, any effort to advance the rights of any group in their society is looked upon with suspicion, and sometimes alarm. 

The remaining events' organizers wait anxiously to find out if their events will be allowed to stay on the agenda, or also be canceled by officials. 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Boo Jarchow