Connect with us

Asia

LGBT Rights Advocacy China shuts down, faced government censorship

“There may still be many uncertainties in the future, but we look forward to the day when clouds have dispersed & we can see blue sky again”

Published

on

LGBT Rights Advocacy China founder Peng Yanzi (Photo Credit: LGBT Rights Advocacy China)

GUANGZHOU, Guangdong Province, China – A prominent LGBTQ+ equality rights legal advocacy group has indefinitely suspended operations Friday. LGBT Rights Advocacy China, co-founded by Peng Yanzi and AQiang in the city of Guangzhou in 2013, the group focused its efforts on securing legal rights for LGBTQ individuals through strategic lawsuits in China’s legal system.

After the announcing that it was suspending its advocacy work on China’s two leading social media platforms of Weibo and WeChat, as well as halting all legal activity around the country, the group communicated via WeChat: “We are grateful for all your companionship and support over the years. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.

“There may still be many uncertainties in the future, but we look forward to the day when the clouds have dispersed and we can see the blue sky again”.

The group advocated for same-sex marriage and fought workplace discrimination by helping individuals sue their former employers. In one high profile case that brought global attention in 2014, Peng Yanzi went undercover to a facility that claimed it could “treat” homosexuality with electroshock therapy. He sued the company and won the Associated Press reported.

In 2020, the group helped an LGBTQ+ activist identified only as Xixi, who at the time was a university student in Guangzhou, sue an academic publisher for describing homosexuality as a “psychological disorder” in a widely available textbook the South China Post reported. The court ultimately ruled in the publisher’s favour.

A person familiar with the situation who lives in China and speaking with the Blade after requesting anonymity, pointed to this past year’s crackdown by the national government in Beijing targeting online LGBTQ+ student groups, LGBTQ+ support and advocacy groups, as well as several leading LGBTQ+ Chinese activists. ” LGBT Rights Advocacy China faced censorship by the government and having its voice stilled on social media,” they said.

In July, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) ( Chinese: 国家互联网信息办公室) permanently disabled and deleted dozens of LGBTQ student organizations WeChat accounts ( Chinese: 请在电脑浏览器上访问) across China.

The accounts, which were primarily managed by students, advocate LGBTQ and gender equality, and providing support to LGBTQ students on university and college campuses.

The pages of those accounts now display the message: “According to internet regulations, we have screened all content and suspended this account.” The names of the accounts have been changed to “Unnamed.”

The censorship sparked immediate outrage by some LGBTQ groups while others fearful of escalation remained silent. Two of the groups affected issued separate media statements posted to the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo ( Chinese: 新浪微博).

“Our activities will not stop due to the closure. On the contrary, we hope to use this opportunity to start again with a continued focus on gender and society, and to embrace courage and love,” Fudan University’s Zhihe Society Fudan University’s Zhihe Society said.

Tsinghua University’s Wudaokou Purple said that although it was “frustrated” that its “years of hard work” had been “burned” at one go, it has only made them closer. The schools are rated as two of China’s top universities and colleges.

A human rights activist from Hong Kong who spoke on the condition of remaining anonymous, pointed out that in recent years the government has moved towards becoming more intolerant and homophobic towards LGBTQ people.

Acceptance of LGBTQ individuals in China has varied historically. In modern China, homosexuality is neither a crime nor officially regarded as an illness in China. For decades, the legal status of consensual same-sex activity between men was ambiguous- although at one point consensual sexual acts between people of the same sex were banned under a law on hooliganism in 1979 with punishments ranging from imprisonment to execution. That was cleared up in the revised criminal code of 1997 as China moved to decriminalize homosexuality.

In 2001, the Chinese Society of Psychiatry removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This is consistent with the consensus of global medical associations that homosexuality is not a medical condition. But same-sex marriage is still illegal and the topic remains taboo socially.

Chinese government officials increasingly push the narrative that LGBTQ+ culture is an imported “Western” idea, while expressing concern that the country’s big tech platforms are spreading subversive views and ideas that could upend traditional ideas of gender.

In September, in an action promulgated by the government of President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping this week, China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) ( Chinese: 国家广播电视总局) ordered broadcasters to “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics.”

In the directive, the NRTA used the term “Niang pao (Chinese: 娘炮)” which means “girlie guns” — more commonly translated as “sissy” an offensive description of effeminate men. The directive is seen as taking direct aim at the idols of the Chinese music industry who tend to be in their late teens to mid twenties, are thin, and dress in what could be loosely deemed an androgynously ambiguous manner.

This latest move is seen by some China-watchers as another in a decades long battle by Beijing to combat Western influences on the younger generations of Chinese.

Conservatives in Chinese society and government charge that young Chinese youth are turning into ‘soft boys,’ reflecting concern that the Chinese pop stars who have embraced the pop-culture phenomenon in part due to the influence of the South Korean pop music and all-encompassing genre known as K-Pop, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.

In some government circles the source told the Blade its seen as overtly homosexual and targeting young Chinese males. One area that has raised the ire of officials is video games.

In September rules that took effect that limits anyone under 18 to three hours per week of online games and prohibits play on school days.

Game developers already were required to submit new titles for government approval before they could be released. Officials have called on them to add nationalistic themes, the AP reported.

“There is a tendency in China for some people to relate homosexuality and LGBT people to Western lifestyles or capitalistic, bourgeois decadence, so this was in line with a moral panic,” said Hongwei Bao, an associate professor of media studies at the University of Nottingham and specialist in queer politics in China.

“Especially now, there’s tension between China-West relations, so there is likely to be a heightened sense of nationalism which sees LGBT issues, feminist issues, as Western, as unfit for China.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Asia

Thai Constitutional Court rules against marriage equality

Advocacy group challenged Section 1448 of country’s Civil and Commercial Code

Published

on

(Photo public domain)

BANGKOK — Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled a law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman in the country is constitutional.

The Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights and Justice, a Thai advocacy group, filed a lawsuit that challenged Section 1448 of the country’s Civil and Commercial Code, which does not extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Bloomberg said the Constitutional Court in its ruling said Thai lawmakers “should draft laws that guarantee the rights for gender diverse people.”

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch who focuses on Thailand, in a tweet said the decision makes the “government’s pledges to promote gender equality meaningless.”

Taiwan in 2019 became the first country in Asia to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Thai Cabinet in 2018 approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. The government last year backed a second version of the measure.

Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, a Thai MP who is a member of the Move Forward Party, has introduced a marriage equality bill.

Continue Reading

Asia

Hong Kong Pride themed ‘stay in love’ held events inside this year

Unable to hold a Pride parade due to pandemic restrictions organisers created ‘The Rainbow Market’ a new concept of an LGBTQ+ bazaar

Published

on

Graphic courtesy of Hong Kong Pride Parade

HONG KONG, S.A.R., China – The annual Hong Kong Pride Parade was scaled back to in-person events Saturday under the theme of ‘Stay in Love’. Unable to hold a Pride parade this year due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic restrictions, organisers created ‘The Rainbow Market’ a new concept of a bazaar with an LGBTQ+ twist.

According to the organisers the Rainbow Market was divided into three zones: The Market Zone, which featured booths by different businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community; the Stay in Love Zone, where booths were set up by sponsors, participating groups, and the official activity booths of Hong Kong Pride Parade; and the Pride Zone, where visitors had plenty of photo ops at different rainbow art installations. 

“Even though you weren’t courageous enough to set foot on the streets, even if we can’t parade in the streets that day, there will always be a way to support the LGBT community,” Hong Kong Pride Parade organisers said in a statement in September when the events calendar was announced.

“Although we could not take to the street this year, we are satisfied with the atmosphere. I think the format of the market can bring everyone closer and there is more cooperation. I believe every one of us is happy with meeting each other today,” representative Cuby Lee of the Hong Kong Pride Parade Committee told the South China Morning Post.

The event was attended by hundreds who lined up early at the venue’s entrance to have their temperatures checked and comply with the other pandemic protocols. The crowd then milled about the three main areas which were comprised of;

  • Market Zone – around 30 small booths of different types of LGBT supportive businesses.
  • Stay in Love Zone – around 20 booths of sponsors, participating groups and the official activity booths of Hong Kong Pride Parade
  • Pride Zone – different types of rainbow art installations for photo taking

Organisers also announced that the annual Pride parade is slated to return in the Fall of 2022. The parade will kick off at 2 pm next year from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. The event includes entertain, vendors and after-parties. Everyone is encouraged to wear yellow, the color in the pride rainbow that symbolizes sunlight.

This year’s events in the Rainbow Market were also attended by the UK in Hong Kong, Consul General Brian Davidson, who tweeted that he and his family went to the Rainbow Market in Kwun Tong and took this amazing opportunity to meet and interact with friends and participants.

The coronavirus pandemic had also postponed Gay Games Hong Kong 2022. The committee organizing the quadrennial international LGBTQ sports event scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in November 2022, announced on Sept. 15 that the Gay Games will be postponed for one year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After much internal deliberation and in consultation with the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) leadership and board, it has been decided that Gay Games 11, originally scheduled for November 2022, will be postponed to November 2023 in Hong Kong,” a statement released by the organizing committee says.

“This decision has been made primarily due to the unpredictable progression of COVID variants and the corresponding travel restrictions that continue to make it challenging for participants from around the world to make plans to travel to Hong Kong,” the statement says.

Continue Reading

Asia

Taiwan to host 2025 World Pride

D.C. had bid to hold global event.

Published

on

The 2019 World Pride Parade in New York. InterPride, the organization that organizes the event, on Nov. 13, 2021, announced World Pride 2025 will take place in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan — InterPride, the coalition of LGBTQ Pride organizations from throughout the world, announced early Saturday that it has selected the group Kaohsiung Pride in Taiwan over D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance to host World Pride 2025.

Kaohsiung Pride and Capital Pride Alliance represented the only two cities that submitted bids to host the international Pride event, which draws thousands of worldwide visitors to the host city.

“With this monumental vote by InterPride members, a World Pride will be held in East Asia for the first time,” according to a statement released by InterPride. “The members of InterPride voted on the host of World Pride 2025 over four days during the 2021 General Meeting and World Conference,” the statement says.

“More than 300 member organizations worldwide participated in the voting process, workshops, plenary sessions, regional and board meetings during the 8-day virtual event,” the statement notes.

In an announcement on Sept. 21 that it had submitted a bid to host World Pride 2025, Capital Pride Alliance said the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

“The Capital Pride Alliance congratulates Kaohsiung Pride on being awarded the opportunity to produce World Pride 2025,” said Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos in a statement released by InterPride.

“We extend to them our heartfelt best wishes for a successful event,” Bos said. “Capital Pride will use the next three years to continue with our long-standing plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of pride in Washington, D.C., in June 2025,” he said in the statement.

The decision to select Taiwan over D.C. for World Pride 2025 comes five years after D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico, lost their respective bids to host the 2022 Gay Games, the quadrennial international LGBTQ sports event. Like InterPride, the Federation of Gay Games, the U.S.-based group that organizes the Gay Games, said in its 2017 announcement that the selection of Hong Kong represented the first time that event would be held in Asia.

Gay Games organizers in Hong Kong have since announced they have postponed the event for one year, to November 2023, due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hong Kong organizers last week said plans for the event were moving forward with support from corporate sponsors and LGBTQ groups despite a crackdown by China against human rights activists in Hong Kong over the past two years that has drawn international condemnation by human rights advocates.

China has long claimed that Taiwan is part of its territory and has suggested it might take military action to “reunite” the island with China, a development that has led to tension between China and the U.S., a committed Taiwan ally.

“From Rome to Jerusalem to London to Toronto to Madrid to New York City to Copenhagen, World Pride has been a worldwide event since 1997,” InterPride said in its statement announcing the event would take place in Taiwan in 2025. The statement says Sydney, Australia, will be hosting the next World Pride set for 2023.

“Bringing World Pride to this region [Taiwan] for the first time will create a significant impact to the much-needed visibility and awareness of human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community there while providing the ability for millions more to participate from surrounding countries and territories, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia,” Julian Sanjivan, InterPride’s co-president, said in the statement.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular