China’s LGBT community caught up in Xi Jinping’s widening crackdowns on big tech, education and celebrities

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10/07/2021

On August 13 last year, the organisers of Shanghai’s long-running LGBT pride festival abruptly announced the event was being cancelled indefinitely without explanation. The news came as a shock to many as the event had run successfully, albeit quietly, for 11 years. In a brief statement on its website titled “the end of the rainbow” the organisation said: “ShanghaiPRIDE regrets to announce that we are cancelling all upcoming activities and taking a break from scheduling any future events. We love our community, and we are grateful for the experiences we’ve shared together.” No explanation was given as to why the event was cancelled. However, sources close to the organisation said that although there had been harassment over the years from the authorities the pressure had suddenly become so intrusive that organisers decided it was no longer safe to continue with the event. It was a sign of things to come as China’s government began what has since evolved into sweeping crackdowns on a wide swathe of the country’s entertainment, tech, education and business sectors. Amid the flurry of new regulations, restrictions and directives were a number specifically targeting China’s LGBT population; including the banning of LGBT social media accounts, increased censorship of discussion of LGBT issues online, gay university groups have been placed under pressure on campuses, attacks on gender identity with demands that men be macho alongside bans on “sissy” boys on television, and regulators being directed to ban “gay love” in video games.

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