Monday, April 14, 2008

Beijing Olympics' Collateral Damage - Crackdown On Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals & Trans-Sexuals

AIDS activists and gay rights supporters in China have sounded an alarm following one of the largest crackdowns on gays and lesbians in Beijing, evidently as part of a “clean-up” ahead of the Olympics.

Wan Yanhai, China’s best known and most outspoken AIDS activist, has detailed several instances of police raids targeted at LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-sexual communities) in Beijing during March. Several gays and lesbians have been detained or interrogated, and establishments frequented by them have been raided and, in some cases, even shut down.

Gays and lesbians otherwise enjoy unfettered freedom to live out their lifestyle in China, where homosexuality has been decriminalised in recent years. Official Chinese policy towards gay issues is, however, characterised by the “three Nos”: no approval, no disapproval and no promotion.

According to Wan, early in March, Destination, a popular LGBT nightclub in Beijing, was shut down for a few days following a police raid. The police said the club was “too crowded”, and restricted access to it.

In mid-March, police interrogated and detained some 40 people at the Dongdan Park in Beijing’s east district, one of the established LGBT cruising spots. In this case too, police claimed that the crackdown was linked to an alleged murder at the park a day earlier, but curiously none of those detained were interrogated about the murder.

The crackdown at Dongdan park continued for several days running, Wan said. People in the park were asked to show their ID, and police cleared out the park in the evening. Later in March, a large posse of police raided two popular gay bathhouses in Beijing at the Oasis club, and detained more than 70 clients and staff. Although the clients were subsequently released, the bathhouses remain shut down.

Wan reported other instances of interrogation and detention of gays and lesbians in March: in the most recent instance, police detained over 75 male sex workers who operated on the Beijing Tongzhi chatrooms.

A chatroom announcement reads: “These days, Beijing is clearing out the city and carrying out a crackdown on sex work. The police have detained more than 80 sex workers… This website does not welcome people with illegal intentions, and hopes everyone works together to fight illegal behaviour.” There were also independent reports of a raid on PinkHome, a trendy gay bar in Shanghai.

The raids are ostensibly being carried out for other reasons other than homosexuality: drugs, overcrowding, and excessively loud music. In any case, no official reasons have been cited for the crackdown. Yet, gay rights activists suspect they are being carried out as part of a “spring cleaning” exercise ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August. (DNA News)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone please moralise this issue...

8:47 PM GMT+8  

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