China Hosts 1st Gay Pride Fest

'Shanghai Pride' a success, though some events canceled by authorities
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2009 4:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – In a breakthrough for gay rights, China’s gay community came to Shanghai last week for the country’s first-ever pride festival, Global Post reports. The weeklong event featured panel discussions, film screenings, play performances, and a large party—but no parade. The fact that the government allowed the festival without its signature feature demonstrates its unresolved attitudes on homosexuality: “In today’s China you can be gay,” said one Chinese activist. “But you can’t be political.”

Officials canceled some of Shanghai Pride's events and threatened to call the festival off, but were generally tolerant. LGBT activists work under Beijing’s restrictive yet hands-off policy, sometimes called the “Triple No”—no approval, no disapproval, no promotion. Organizing is tolerated, but the less conspicuous, the better, which is why activists are willing to forgo large celebrations like parades. Instead, they set up panel discussions on political art and theater, organized in the relative quiet of social-networking sites.