The Chinese government has long taken an adamant stance when it comes to LGBTQ rights and visibility on the mainland: namely, China wants to erase queer people from existence. One of the ways that erasure plays out is through authoritarian treatment of gay citizens and tourists, as evidenced by what transpired during a recent Shanghai circuit party raid.
For proof of China’s anti-gay stance, one need look no further than the Communist nation’s history of banning LGBTQ content outright. Video and audio content that displays “abnormal sexual behaviors,” including homosexuality, is banned from the internet. Ten scenes were cut from the China edit of the 2018 Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody. And less than a year ago, a Chinese novelist was sentenced to 10 years behind bars — a harsher sentence than some rapists and murderers receive — for including gay sex in her novel.
The Chinese version of Netflix has even gone so far as to blur the earlobes of male actors with earrings in an effort to preserve traditional gender roles — a move that seems pretty ridiculous to Western cultures so comfortable with consuming LGBTQ-supportive entertainment.
The most recent Shanghai circuit party raid
Heaven is Shanghai’s most popular gay dance event, a circuit party that takes place multiple times each year and regularly draws talented DJs — and partiers — from around the world. The parties typically last more than one night and are some of the mainland’s biggest dance events, attracting thousands from across the Asian continent.
The most recent Shanghai circuit party was the “Heaven Full Moon Festival,” taking place Thursday, Sept. 12, through Saturday, Sept. 14. On Friday, the weekend-long party changed venues from Modern Sky Lab to the venue LG Club.
LG Club was raided by police on Saturday, and medical professionals were brought into the club to submit the gay partiers to hair follicle drug testing. (As opposed to urine tests, which can typically ID substances consumed within the past week, hair follicle drug tests can detect substances in the body as old as three months.)
Hornet has been unable to confirm what some have also said: that Saturday’s circuit party raid also had buses waiting outside LG Club to transport partiers to a local police station.
Following the Shanghai circuit party raid, LG Club responded to the incident with a statement, believing the police acted out of their jurisdiction — that the police who showed up were from the Nanjing East Road Police Station and not the local Hongkou District.
LG’s statement following the Shanghai circuit party raid, published on the bar’s WeChat account, as translated by Hornet:
The HEAVEN Mid-Autumn Party suffered the most serious setback in history, causing many friends from overseas in Shanghai to be shocked.
On the evening of Sept. 13, police officers from the Nanjing East Road Police Station abused the public without contacting the local police in Hongkou District.
Police officers raided the bar three times over past months. Before each party, at the door of the LG bar in Hongkou District. People were arrested and submitted to a drug test without any evidence, which interfered with the normal operation of LG. This made people panic, resulting in some people not daring to come to LG for any party and instead choosing to go to mixed or straight bars.
After gathering certain relevant evidence, we have already reported this intolerable situation to the competent authority of the city, and they plainly stated that such violations are illegal and interfere with the normal business of merchants. The Nanjing East Road Police Station has telephoned LG’s management to ensure the unreasonable actions of local police will not happen again.
If you have encountered the above situation over the past three months, you are welcome to contact us via email. We want to help everyone defend their legal rights when necessary.
Raids of gay dance events are at this point commonplace in mainland China. According to LG’s statement, the bar has itself been raided by police three times this year. Many gay men familiar with travel through China are quick to tell stories of police arresting gay men at home, at work and in public places.
One man speaking to Hornet (who asked that his identity remain anonymous) remarked that these raids of gay events have been happening for more than a year. Detained gay men are sometimes asked to provide two names each to escape police custody.
A popular gay L.A. DJ (whose identity Hornet has also chosen to keep anonymous) responded to the news of Saturday’s circuit party raid by saying, “This is not surprising. The last time I played [in mainland China], the promoter warned me we could be raided. It’s common knowledge. Sad but true.”
And while these police efforts are presumably undertaken as “drug raids” and not “anti-gay raids,” it’s hard to imagine that’s the case given the Chinese government’s hardline stance on LGBTQ culture and content. It’s also possible that gay events and venues like this Shanghai circuit party and LG Club are seen as easy prey for successful raids.
For the time being, it appears that China’s crackdown on gay culture, content, events and citizens will continue, and LGBTQ locals and tourists alike would be smart to act accordingly.