China: Mass Arrests of Gay Men Shows Discrimination by Guangzhou Police

On March 30, 2009, fifty gay men were rounded up by Guangzhou police at Renmin Gongyuan People’s Park in Guangzhou, China, and arrested and detained for questioning at the Guangwei Road police station. Police claimed that they were acting on complaints from local residents that gay men use the park as a cruising area. A similar incident occurred on April 3, 2009, at around 8:00 p.m., when more than 60 gay men were arbitrarily arrested and questioned at the police station. Before both of the raids, the men were only talking to each other and were not doing anything illegal.

HIV/AIDS activists arrested

Five HIV/AIDS activists from the Chi Heng Foundation, a Hong Kong based non-governmental organization that works on AIDS prevention targeting vulnerable groups, were arrested and questioned on March 30 while doing outreach education in the park. Another six outreach workers from the Chi Heng Foundation were also arrested on April 3.

When some of the men questioned their arrests, they were told that they were suspected of prostitution and should go to the police station for questioning. Policeman Li said that the public could not accept gay men having sex in toilets in the park and suggested that they move to a more secret place like Baiyun Mountain or Haiyin Bridge instead.

In a statement on the LGBT web portal fridae.com, Chung To, founder and chairperson of Chi Heng Foundation states that, "Taking them [the men] to the police station without any reason is unjustified. We are disappointed that this kind of police action still happens in China which hurts our HIV prevention outreach work."

In the same article, Dr. Wan Yan Hai, founder & director of the Aizhixing Institute of Health Education, an HIV/AIDS advocacy and awareness group, urged the Chinese police department to respect the civil rights of LGBT people in Guangzhou. “We believe that the police have clear[ly] shown … discrimination and harassment towards the gay community during these raids and arrests, which should be condemned,” he said. “We urge the police to stop such harassment immediately and educate police officers with basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention policies and civil rights concerning [the] LGBT community to avoid [the] misuse of power and human rights violation[s] in their conduct.”

Dr. Wan Yan Hai adds that, "The police are deemed to have violated the Regulation on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS, which was adopted at the 122nd executive meeting of the State Council on January 18, 2006, which came into force on March 1, 2006."