SHANGHAI: Organizers of Shanghai's Gay Pride Week were dealt a third blow Thursday when the manager of a local bar - one of the two venues for the celebration - made it unavailable without offering a reason.
The loss of the location came hot on the heels of the forced cancellation of two film screenings at a local bar on Wednesday after festival organizers were told by the municipal commercial bureau that the venue lacked appropriate licenses to stage films.
A play planned for today at a photography studio was also in need of new digs after a man from unidentified authority compelled organizers to pull the plug.
Coordinators of Gay Pride Week said Thursday they were "disappointed" about the shutdowns.
"As many events as possible" will be staged before the end of the week to make the festival a success, said Hannah Miller, an American co-organizer.
She and Tiffany Lemay, another American co-organizer, founded ShanghaiLGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) in 2006. It is the city's biggest group catering to the demographic.
The municipal public security bureau Thursday did not acknowledge any involvement in blocking the events when contacted by China Daily. The commercial bureau said the cancellation need to be verified, but added that the cancellation of film screenings might have been to do with the films' content and China's rules on public advertisements.
Shanghai's municipal administration of culture, radio, film and TV - the city's cultural products watchdog - told China Daily it did not know about the cancellations. An official surnamed Fan added that a venue needs to acquire the necessary license to play films and those films should be approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television before they are shown to the public.
Thursday was the fifth day of the week-long Shanghai Gay Pride Festival, which was the first event of its kind in the city. Festivities will conclude on June 14.
"Although homosexuality has long been decriminalized in China, social stigma still exists and public acceptance of the community is largely limited," said Cai Dingjian from China University of Political Science and Law.
"The authorities didn't say directly that 'gays are not allowed to hold gatherings,' which obviously is not legally viable, but they still intervened in a way that betrays their discrimination against this group.
Cai said there is still a widespread association of homosexuality with such negative concepts as HIV/AIDS and drug transactions in China, which is very likely why local authorities intervened. "Homosexuals should be granted equal rights with other citizens, and they should be respected and protected as long as they do not violate the law," Cai added.