China: security guards assault women attending LGBT event
Women wearing rainbow badges were blocked from entering Beijing’s 798 arts district by guards who punched them and then knocked them to the ground
Homosexuality is not illegal in China but conservative attitudes still persistPhotograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images
Video of security guards punching and knocking down two Chinese women attending an LGBT gathering in Beijing has caused outrage among China’s LGBT community and its supporters. On Sunday, two women wearing rainbow badges were blocked from entering Beijing’s 798 art district, according to witness accounts posted online. Videos showed police punching and knocking down one woman, after which another woman attempts to hit a guard before she is also punched and knocked down.
An LGBT activist had been handing out rainbow badges to mark the International Day Against Homophobia when security guards employed by the district told the organiser to stop and barred those wearing the badges from entering. The organiser, who only gave an online alias, Piaoquanjun, told Chinese state media Global Times that the two women had been hospitalised. Footage of the altercation soon circulated Chinese social media, prompting the hashtag “798 beating.” The hashtag and video were blocked on Monday.
One Weibo user wrote, “In some countries, people can marry who they love. We’re not even allowed to enter 798 art district while wearing rainbow badges, and we get beaten.” The Guangzhou gender Education Centre published an open letter online saying, “This is not only a violation of the dignity and rights of the LGBT community, but also a naked trampling of the basic rights of citizens prescribed by the constitution.”
Homosexuality is not illegal in China but conservative attitudes still persist and gay content and activities are routinely blocked. In recent months, China’s LGBT community has been emboldened, after an outpouring of criticism online pushed the microblog Weibo to overturn a ban on gay content. Last week when a Chinese broadcaster censored LGBT elements from the Eurovision song contest, it was prohibited from showing the rest of the contest.
“That event and the badges were sensitive as symbols of the fight against suppression,” said Lu Pin, activist and founder of the Feminist Voices blog.
She said advocates face a tougher environment for speaking out as Chinese authorities crack down on civil society. “The public space for diverse expressions is collapsing.
People are realising that they must stand up for their rights, but the situation is so difficult now.”