News / Asia

Gay Rights Activist Held in China

Activists march during a demonstration to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Changsha, May 17, 2013. The banner reads,
Activists march during a demonstration to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Changsha, May 17, 2013. The banner reads, "Homosexsuals are also ordinary people".
VOA News
A young gay rights activist was detained last week in the southern city of Changsha, following a rally organized by local groups to mark an international day against homophobia, his lawyer said.

The man, 19-year-old Xiang Yuhan, was taken into custody early Saturday after police came to his hotel room.

“He’s been put under administrative detention for 12 days on charges of organizing an illegal rally.  His mother is mentally ill and he looks after her.  We’ve asked authorities to cut short his detention,” said his lawyer, Lin Qilei.

Lin said his client is being held at the Changsha Detention Center.  In China, individuals can be held without trial for at least one month.

In the wake of recent milestones for gay rights around the globe, activists in China are stepping up efforts to promote the legal recognition of same-sex marriage and win more guarantees for basic rights.

In April, New Zealand became the 13th country in the world to legalize gay marriage, followed a few days later by France.  In the United States, 12 states and Washington, D.C., already approve same-sex marriage, and the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to deliver a key ruling on the same topic.

Protest

Last week, at least 100 demonstrators took part in the rally in Changsha.  It took place on International Day Against Homophobia, a worldwide event coordinated by a prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization based in Paris.  Marchers called for an end to discrimination against gays and increased guarantees of civil rights for homosexuals in China.

Fellow gay rights activist Ah Qiang, who also attended the rally, said he believes Xiang Yuhan was singled out because he is a prominent advocate for LGBT rights in the south of China.

Three other people were taken away by police at the same time and were freed a few hours later after questioning.

“He [Xiang Yuhan] was the organizer of the rally, he runs a community website for homosexuals and helped launch a similar event last year.  He is very active and wants to keep hosting the event in the future,” said Ah Qiang.

VOA was unable to reach authorities in Changsha for comment on the case.

Last week, similar demonstrations took place in several cities across China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.  No other arrests have been reported elsewhere.

Organizers said the rallies have been peaceful and colorful, attracting the understanding and support of local communities.  Marchers sang, shouted slogans and handed out leaflets to amused passersby.  At Chongqing University, demonstrators organized a kissing competition off campus.  The event drew hundreds of onlookers and was widely discussed on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service.

Open letter

Civil rights lawyers also marked the day.  They signed an open letter, addressed to China’s Legal Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, asking for a revision of China’s marriage law to include gay marriage as a legal form of union.

“Gay couples still face much discrimination in China, due to the lack of a legal recognition of their union,” said Beijing layer Huang Yizhi.  Huang was a promoter of the petition. “For example, in Shanghai, homosexual couples are barred from purchasing a house because they cannot marry.”

Civil rights like the right to share properties, to inherit and adopt children, that are constitutionally guaranteed to all citizens in China, should also apply to homosexuals, reads the open letter.

“Recently another state in the U.S. legalized same-sex marriage and the debate is resonating around the world.  This is very encouraging for us,” said Huang. 

Some believe one of the first steps toward revising any sort of law in China was taken last week, when a court ruling in Hong Kong issued a landmark ruling regarding the definition of who is eligible to marry.

Hong Kong ruling

Last Monday, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeals stated that the Marriage Ordinance must include in its definition of ‘woman’ or ‘female’ that of a ‘post-operative male-to-female transsexual person.’  The ruling was a final response to a lawsuit filed by a transsexual woman regarding the established concept of marriage.

The court’s decision sparked controversy in Hong Kong, which is a special administrative zone of China.  Conservatives in Hong Kong fear the ruling opens the door to same-sex marriage.

Homosexuality is still a very sensitive topic in China, but is gaining more attention, even from state-run news organizations.

Earlier this week, the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a study that said gays and bisexuals in China face widespread discrimination from employers and peers, and that discourages them from being open about their sexual orientation in the workplace.

Many fear that revealing their sexual orientation at work could hinder their career advancement, while others worry about the impact it could have on their relationships with their colleagues.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs