Gay rights activist arrested after protest in Changsha

Police in Changsha have detained a young gay rights activist after he organised a protest in the capital of Hunan province to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

A 19-year-old man, identified only as Xiang, was arrested on Saturday and will be in administrative detention for 12 days for organising an “illegal protest”, police said, according to a report in the local Xiaoxiang Morning News, which has since been deleted online.

Xiang has been transferred to the Changsha Municipal Detention Centre, said A Qiang, a fellow demonstrator and well-known activist from Guangzhou.

Xiang has been active in the local LGBT community since age 14. A Qiang said Xiang had approached police about the protest before it took place on Friday afternoon.

The protest called for an end to homophobia and discrimination. It was second time Changsha’s LGBT community has organised such a protest. Police had not interfered in last year’s demonstration. Some 80 to 100 people participated this year.

“They said if we don’t see you, we don’t have to handle it,” A Qiang said. “We knew we couldn’t apply for permission to demonstrate, so we decided to call it a marketing event for Hunan With Love”, a commercial community website.

“Companies do that all the time,” he said. “The police seemed to be OK with it.”

A Qiang said police did not interfere with the protest, except towards the end, when police approached the protesters, telling them not to shout slogans and impede traffic.

By 2.45am on Saturday, Xiang and three other people were taken away by police from a hotel room they were staying in. All except Xiang were released by the afternoon.

A Qiang said the protest was one of at least 10 across China on Friday. Demonstrations took place in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengsu, and also in second-tier cities such as Nanchang.

He said he did not recall anyone else ever having been but briefly detained for organising such protests.

Activists in Guangzhou told the South China Morning Post [1] on Saturday that they had been detained and questioned by police for distributing fliers on Friday.

On Monday, searches for “protest” and “Changsha” were blocked on Sina Weibo, the country’s largest microblogging platform.

by Patrick Boehler
Source – South China Morning Post