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, "Homosexsuals are also ordinary people".
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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid