Authorities in several regions in China have allegedly stopped LGBT rights events for the forthcoming International Day against Homophobia, which, together with people wearing rainbow badges beaten up in the 798 Art Zone in Beijing, have sparked discussions on Chinese social media.
A member of a Guangzhou-based LGBT rights organization, who refused to give her full name, told the Global Times that their event scheduled on the International Day against Homophobia, which falls on May 17, was considered an "illegal gathering" and was canceled by the local public security and cultural bureau.
An event scheduled on May 17 by another Shanghai-based LGBT rights organization was also stopped, and the related department gathered the information of participants to make sure "no one will do something" on that day, according to a LGBT activist who only agreed to be identified by his online name "piaoquanjun."
Both the Guangzhou public security and cultural bureau and Shanghai authorities failed to reply to the Global Times as of press time.
However, Matthew from Speak Out, another LGBT rights organization based in Chengdu, told the Global Times that their events celebrating the special day will push through. He added they have tie-ups with the Canadian and French embassies.
The news of the events' suspensions came one day after security from the 798 Art Zone reportedly beat two women for trying to enter the zone wearing rainbow badges.
People got the free badges from "piaoquanjun" who was handing them out for the International Day against Homophobia on Sunday.
A man working for the property management department of the Beijing Administrative Committee of 798 Art Zone told the Global Times on Sunday that one of the women "gave a middle finger to one of the security guards," which started the incident.
One of the women's mouth was swollen while the other had bruises on her face.
The security company responsible for security around the art zone agreed to "apologize, provide compensation and dismiss its staff who beat the women," one of the injured women told the Global Times on Monday. She preferred to be identified by her WeChat name, Cheng Yuedan.
"Many others were stopped by security either because they were wearing the badge or the security thought they were taking a badge with them," Cheng Yuedan said.
"Communication and negotiations could be a better way for LGBT people to express their demand for acceptance and openness in China," Peng Xiaohui, a sexology professor at Wuhan's Central China Normal University, told the Global Times.
Discussions have blossomed on Weibo since Sunday about the incident and homosexuals as a group in China.
"It is absolutely wrong to hit people… but it is best for the organizers to communicate with the art zone before holding events. Their safety is something they have to be concerned with," netizen Anyixiaoxiong said.
The topic hashtag "not silent for May 17" attracted over 1.7 million views on Sina Weibo by Monday morning, but was removed as of press time.
"The public acceptance of the group has improved in recent years in China. It is good to get more people informed about LGBT, but I wonder if demonstrations and some high-profile events are the best ways," Youyou, a 30-year-old netizen who identified herself as bisexual, told the Global Times on Monday.
Since many people still do not accept LGBT, high-profile events could lead to public panic or even discrimination in Chinese society, which benefits no one, Peng noted, adding that public acceptance of LGBT will be realized only together with the development of society, which takes time and requires patience.
"A little more time should be given to the country and society to progress step by step," Peng said.
Newspaper headline: LGBT rights events stopped