Pink pageant can­celled

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

BEI­JING: Po­lice can­celled what would have been China’s first gay pageant just an hour be­fore it was to start yes­ter­day, the event’s or­gan­iser said.

The Mr Gay China pageant, fea­tur­ing a fash­ion show and a host in drag, was set to take place in an up­scale night­club in Bei­jing, but po­lice said it could not be held, Ben Zhang said. “They said the con­tent, mean­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, there was noth­ing wrong with that, but (we had not done) things ac­cord­ing to pro­ce­dures.”

He said po­lice told him he needed to ap­ply for ap­proval for events that in­cluded per­for­mances, in this case a stage show.

The forced clo­sure comes even though a suc­cess­ful re­hearsal was held on Thurs­day night. Zhang had said he hoped it would mark an­other step to­ward greater aware­ness of ho­mo­sex­u­als in a coun­try where gays are dis­crim­i­nated against and os­tracised.

Eight men were com­pet­ing for the ti­tle and a spot in the World­wide Mr Gay pageant, to be held next month in Oslo, Nor­way.

Gay rights in China have come a long way since the years just af­ter the 1949 com­mu­nist revo­lu­tion when ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was con­sid­ered a dis­ease from the deca­dent West and feu­dal so­ci­eties, and gay peo­ple were per­se­cuted. Sodomy was de­crim­i­nalised in 1997, and ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was fi­nally re­moved from the of­fi­cial list of men­tal dis­or­ders in 2001.

While treat­ment of gays has im­proved in re­cent years, many are still ret­i­cent to draw at­ten­tion to their ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, es­pe­cially in the work­place.

China is of­fi­cially athe­is­tic, and without re­li­gious rea­sons for op­pos­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, at­ti­tudes are slowly shift­ing among city dwellers from one of in­tol­er­ance to in­dif­fer­ence.

Gays liv­ing in big cities say their chal­lenge is deal­ing with par­ents and deeply in­grained ex­pec­ta­tions of them to get mar­ried and have chil­dren. – Sapa-AP

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