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Authorities show interest in Shanghai Pride

Authorities show interest in Shanghai Pride

Chinese authorities have shown more interest in the fifth Shanghai Pride than ever before.

‘All of our venues were contacted by the authorities,’ said organizer Charlene Liu to Gay Star News. ‘They questioned whether they had the capacity to house a large crowd.’

After that three venues decided to drop-out from hosting Pride events, causing a last-minute logistical headache, as has happened in previous years.

The authorities (Liu doesn’t know what department they were from) also contacted Shanghai Pride’s organizers.

‘They asked us to be careful,’ said Liu. ‘But they still let it go ahead, which I think is very good.’

Although the venue drop-out was inconvenient, Liu said that on the other hand the interest is good because it shows Shanghai Pride is catching attention. The aims of the festival this year are ‘creating awareness promoting tolerance’ – and it sounds like awareness is spreading.

Shanghai Pride has never featured a parade as political street protests are heavily repressed in China. At a march for IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) last month a 19-year-old activist was detained for 12 days for protesting without a license.

Liu said this year’s Shanghai Pride, which was first held in 2009, is ‘better and bigger’ than previous years but has also come with ‘more challenges and more stress’.

The festival, which started last Friday (14 June) and runs until this Saturday (22 June) features an exhibition in an established art gallery, two panel discussions, a picnic, film nights, sports events and an opening party attended by 1,500 people. ‘They were lining up around the block,’ said Liu.

At the first panel discussion last Sunday representatives from IBM and Goldman Sachs talked about improving the environment for LGBT people at work in China.

At the second panel discussion this coming Saturday the owner of Shanghai’s longest running gay bar (since 1995), Eddie’s, and his partner will talk about gay marriage with the head of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) China and a social studies professor from Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University.

‘All events have been maxed-out so far,’ said Liu. ‘It’s really encouraging.’

This year’s Shanghai Pride also featured a photographic ad campaign calling for greater recognition of LGBT rights and HIV awareness.

Watch a video about the making of the campaign here: