A gay 19-year-old teenager from China was arrested for organizing an LGBT Rights March. Identified by his surname Xiang, he hoped to “let more people have a correct understanding of LGBT people” and to question the discrimination and homophobia that the LGBT community faces.
“The man, identified only by his surname Xiang, was detained following the Friday event in the city of Changsha and ordered to serve 12 days in a detention center for organizing an illegal march,” reports the Associated Press.
In support of the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17), 80 people participated in the march on Friday with a giant rainbow flag and banners calling for an end to discrimination.
Transferred to the Changsha Municipal Detention Centre, Xiang was approached by the authorities before the protest. Fellow LGBT Advocate A Qiang said he had been advocating for LGBT rights since he was 14.
All demonstrations in China need police approval and permission, which is rarely given.
“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 Qiang added that companies do such marketing tactics all the time with support from the authorities. He also said that the police did not intervene with the protest until the end when the activists were stopping traffic and shouting slogans.
“By 2:45 a.m. 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,” The South China Morning Post reported.
Around 10 demonstrations were occurring all over China, which included Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengsu, and Nanchang.
A Qiang noted that no other activists were arrested for organizing an LGBT march.
China currently does not recognize marriage equality or any legislation that bans discrimination against the LGBT community. In 2001, China removed homosexuality as a mental disorder.