China crackdown pushes LGBT groups into the shadows

While celebrations were held around the world for Pride month, there were no major LGBT events in China.

The country’s largest Pride event has been suspended since 2021.

The organiser, a group named ShanghaiPride, did not give a reason for the move, saying at the time it was “cancelling all upcoming activities and taking a break from scheduling any future events.”

People taking part in political protests in China often face punishment, so instead of holding parades, ShanghaiPride had organised dance parties, community runs and film screenings in the city.

Now, only a few low-profile events are available for the LGBT community such as “voguing balls”, where dancers execute moves inspired by model poses.

And ShanghaiPride is not the only major LGBT group to cease operations.

In recent years, several others have had to shut down, raising fears of a crackdown on activism in the world’s second largest economy.

Dozens of accounts dealing with LGBT topics on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat were reportedly deleted in 2021.

The same year, a group which filed lawsuits on behalf of members of the LGBT community closed down. There were reports that its founder was detained by authorities, with the closure of the group being a condition for his release.

And last month, the Beijing LGBT Center became the latest group to stop operations “due to forces beyond our control”.

“With the closure of the Beijing LGBT Center, the last large LGBT organisation in China has decided to take a break,” Raymond Phang, the co-founder of ShanghaiPride, told the BBC.

Mr Phang left China after his group cancelled an annual celebration in Shanghai. (BBC)

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