China’s biggest Pride festival and longest-running LGBT+ group, ShanghaiPRIDE, is stopping all its activities immediately.
ShanghaiPRIDE announced it is ‘cancelling all upcoming activities and taking a break from scheduling any future events’.
Organizers say they made the decision ‘to protect the safety of all involved’.
Unlike other countries, Shanghai’s Pride event doesn’t include a march or parade. That’s because the Chinese authorities are opposed to anything that looks like a popular protest.
However, the annual festival typically includes a Rainbow Bike Ride, Pride Run, film festival and forums. These all went ahead in June.
But now ShanghaiPRIDE is cancelling all future events including a Red Ribbon charity dinner in December.
In an official statement, the organization said:
‘Pride has a lot of different meanings for different people – for us, it has always been about showing our community that not only is there nothing wrong with who we are, but that our identities and the people that we love are worth celebrating.
‘ShanghaiPRIDE regrets to announce that we are canceling all upcoming activities and taking a break from scheduling any future events.
‘We love our community, and we are grateful for the experiences we’ve shared. No matter what, we will always be proud – and you should be, too.’
Why is ShanghaiPRIDE stopping?
It is not clear exactly why ShanghaiPRIDE made the decision. GSN approached them to ask for more information and is awaiting a reply.
However co-founder Charlene Liu, said that ‘the decision was difficult to make but we have to protect the safety of all involved’.
She added: ‘It’s been a great 12-year-ride and we are honoured and proud to have traveled this journey of raising awareness and promoting diversity for the LGBTQ community.’
It comes at a time when China is in a state of flux over LGBT+ rights.
Chinese people are discussing LGBT+ issues more openly. Meanwhile more young Chinese people say they are LGBT+ than ever before. However China missed an opportunity to legislate for same-sex marriage this year, despite popular support for the idea.
Moreover, official censors are cracking down – frequently but arbitrarily – on online and film content depicting LGBT+ lives.
The Chinese authorities have investigated ShanghaiPRIDE in the past but have nevertheless allowed it to continue.
Meanwhile the event has attracted support from foreign governments. The Consulates in Shanghai for Australia, British, Canada, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands all sponsor the festival.
The organization’s announcement yesterday is a major blow for the LGBT+ community.
Indeed Local publication That’s Shanghai described the news as ‘thoroughly depressing’.
And it added: ‘Shanghai just got darker. Let’s hope rainbow colors will be back to brighten it up again soon.’