Police cancelled Gay pageant in China

The first Chinese gay pageant in China, was ordered by police to shut down an hour before opening on Friday, organisers say.

The Mr Gay China event was thought to mark a new openness toward the gay community in China.

Organisers said police informed them it could not go ahead because they had not applied "according to the procedures".

Homosexuality was illegal in China until 1997, and officials described it as a mental illness until 2001.

The event's organiser, Ben Zhang, said he had been hoping the event would mark another step towards greater awareness of gay people in China.

One of the judges, Weng Xiaogang, told the AFP news agency: "In my opinion, I believe it [the cancellation] had something to do with the issue of homosexuality."

The event, in an upmarket Beijing nightclub, was to feature a swimwear round and talent section, but contestants would also have been judged on their ability to represent the gay community. The winner was to represent China at the Mr Gay Worldwide final in Norway next month.

Some 150 people who turned up to watch, many of them from media organisations, were left to view a deserted stage.

Contestant Jiang Bo, 29, told Reuters: "It's a disaster. I'm full of disappointment. I thought the government was becoming more and more tolerant.

"They were making a big step. The whole world was thinking China was doing a very good thing. But now I think everybody will be disappointed."

In June last year, the organisers of China's first Gay Pride Festival were told to cancel two of their sessions - and that they would face "severe consequences" if they went ahead.

The Mr. Gay China pageant had attracted a great deal of press attention and even the normally staid state-run media reported on the event this week. Tickets, which cost 100 yuan (US$14.60) and 150 yuan (US$22.00), sold out three days ago.

Contestant Simon Wang, who had planned to perform a self-choreographed dance to Lady Gaga's "LoveGame," struck cheeky poses for the cameras.

Gay rights in China have come a long way since the years just after the 1949 communist revolution when homosexuality was considered a disease from the decadent West and feudal societies, and gay people were persecuted. Sodomy was decriminalized in 1997, and homosexuality was finally removed from the official list of mental disorders in 2001.

China is officially atheistic, and without religious reasons for opposing homosexuality, attitudes are slowly shifting among city dwellers from one of intolerance to indifference. Gays living in big cities, like nearly all the men participating in the pageant, said their biggest challenge was dealing with parents and deeply ingrained expectations for them to get married and have children.

Via - BBC News , MSNBC

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