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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07SHANGHAI326
2007-05-31 01:29:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Shanghai
Cable title:  

GAY SHANGHAI: AMBIGUOUS STATUS CREATES VULNERABILITY

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  TBIO  KCRM  CH 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0642
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0326/01 1510129
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 310129Z MAY 07
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5877
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1133
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0687
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0669
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0797
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0561
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0689
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 6284
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SHANGHAI 000326 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM, INR/B AND INR/EAP
STATE PASS USTR FOR STRATFORD, WINTER, MCCARTIN, ALTBACH, READE
TREAS FOR OASIA - DOHNER/HAARSAGER/CUSHMAN
TREAS FOR AMB HOLMER, WRIGHT, TSMITH
USDOC FOR ITA/MAC - DAS KASOFF, MELCHER, MCQUEEN
NSC FOR WILDER AND TONG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/31/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM TBIO KCRM CH
SUBJECT: GAY SHANGHAI: AMBIGUOUS STATUS CREATES VULNERABILITY

REF: A) SHANGHAI 318 B) SHANGHAI 324

CLASSIFIED BY: Mary Tarnowka, Section Chief, Political/Economic
Section , U.S. Consulate Shanghai.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SHANGHAI 000326

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM, INR/B AND INR/EAP
STATE PASS USTR FOR STRATFORD, WINTER, MCCARTIN, ALTBACH, READE
TREAS FOR OASIA - DOHNER/HAARSAGER/CUSHMAN
TREAS FOR AMB HOLMER, WRIGHT, TSMITH
USDOC FOR ITA/MAC - DAS KASOFF, MELCHER, MCQUEEN
NSC FOR WILDER AND TONG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/31/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM TBIO KCRM CH
SUBJECT: GAY SHANGHAI: AMBIGUOUS STATUS CREATES VULNERABILITY

REF: A) SHANGHAI 318 B) SHANGHAI 324

CLASSIFIED BY: Mary Tarnowka, Section Chief, Political/Economic
Section , U.S. Consulate Shanghai.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary: According to contacts in Shanghai's gay
community, sexual discrimination in Shanghai was rife, but
because few Shanghainese were openly gay and lesbian in a way
that countered social expectations to fulfill family duties,
such as to marry and reproduce, discrimination was less direct
and confrontational. Many individuals interviewed for this
cable appeared to know how to structure their lives in order to
avoid hostile social environments. Organizations or venues
devoted to the gay community appeared to have a more complex
relationship with the law and were vulnerable to corruption.
This is the third of a series of four cables addressing the
social, medical, legal and media issues facing the gay community
in Shanghai. End Summary.

AMBIGUOUS LEGAL STATUS OF HOMOSEXUALITY
--------------


2. (C) Poloff interviewed a wide-range of gays and lesbians in
Shanghai, as well as academics and medical professionals during
the month of April. Chinese law does not address or classify
homosexuals as a minority group nor protected class. In 1997,
China revised its criminal law and abolished the crime of
"hooliganism" which was often used in connection with arrests of
homosexuals or raids on gay venues. At present, most gay
contacts in Shanghai appear to be more concerned with daily
living and managing family expectations than changing Chinese
law. Contacts in the gay community all considered the
government to be neither for nor against the gay community.


3. (C) While one gay male said that the lack of legal

boundaries for the gay community had turned Shanghai into a "gay
paradise", others believed that this legal ambiguity had many
disadvantages. A Chinese-Malaysian lesbian working in the wine
industry said that she was grateful to hold a non-Chinese
passport. She believed the government would take action, if
necessary, against the gay community if it was linked to a
health or drug problem. "Gay people in China," she added,
"lived in a gray zone" with little guidance on what was
permitted. Rager Sheng, the Shanghai Branch Director of Chi
Heng Foundation, a Hong-Kong based NGO devoted to HIV/AIDs
prevention, said there were no legal protections for
homosexuals. He pointed to a case of a male bartender in
Zhejiang Province who could not file a complaint in court
against his boss for raping him because lawyers and other law
enforcement officials could not find supporting rulings for a
male-on-male sexual assault case.

-------------- --

NGOs CONSTANTLY UNDER THREAT OF BEING SHUTDOWN
-------------- --


4. (C) Contacts noted that this the lack of precedence over
what organizations or individuals could or could not do to
assist the gay community meant that the trigger for a police
response remained a constant unknown. According to gay rights
activist Zhou Dan, he and a doctor who worked on HIV/AIDS in the
gay community, Dr. Tong Chuanliang started the first hotline for
callers with questions about gay issues. The hotline, in
cooperation with the Shanghai Sexually Transmitted Diseases
(STD) and HIV Association, an affiliate of the Shanghai Skin and
STD Hospital, was a government-owned, non-governmental
organization (GONGO) staffed by over 50 volunteers who responded
to an initial Web posting. The staff responded to questions
from callers about being gay, coming out and family pressures
until the hotline was suddenly closed in December 2005 due to
"misoperation". The hotline's partner GONGO forgot to file a
report with the police about a party the hotlines' volunteers
planned to host at a gay bar. The party was to feature
"entertainment" followed by a question/answer session in the
form of a game to educate the audience about HIV/AIDS
transmission. Once the police heard about the nature of the
party, they cancelled the event and soon, thereafter, closed the
hotline. Dr. Tong added that he "was confused" over how the
GONGO could forget such a routine filing. In 2004, the Chi Heng
Foundation started another hotline with the same purpose, which

SHANGHAI 00000326 002 OF 003


has yet to be shut down.


5. (C) According to Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
Research Center for HIV/AIDS Director Xia Guomei, "the bosses
and police" were the biggest challenges for HIV/AIDS educators
and NGOs. She said that HIV/AIDS educators were often arrested
alongside prostitutes and customers because they were viewed by
the police as consumers of an illegal trade or viewed by owners
of gay bars and bath houses as non-consumers and thus unwelcome.
The police would then notify the volunteer's family and work
unit about the nature of the arrest, causing a loss of face
regardless of the volunteer's sexuality. She noted that she
would lead a training session for owners of gay venues and
police in Nanjing on May 7 to educate them on the work of
HIV/AIDs volunteers.


6. (C) Chi Heng Foundation Founder Chung To said that there
were tighter constraints on the NGO community in the last year
or two. He believed this was related to the "color revolutions"
in Ukraine and China was closely following Russia's lead and had
become more restrictive towards NGOs a month after Russia passed
laws on no new NGOs. He said his NGO, however, had slightly
more freedom to operate since its work was focused on directly
improving people's lives (by allowing children to attend
schools, etc.) Whereas environmental NGOs which advocated
social change or group movements had a harder time. He
mentioned that the Shanghai staff of Chi Heng received weekly
phone calls from Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials asking
for a report on their activities, plans and who they had met
with lately. PSB officials were required to report on Chi Heng
activities to their superiors. The PSB officers told Chi Heng
employees that the one time that the employees did not inform
them about an event, the officers were scolded by their
superiors.

GAY VENUES AND POLICE/LAW
--------------


7. (C) According to Simon Adams, a British expatriate and one
of the owners of a gay multiplex, the lines of what activities
were and were not allowed were unclear, so he had to tread
carefully. The multiplex, Pink Home, opened in November 2006 as
China's first gay multiplex. A disco occupied the first floor,
a lounge/restaurant was on the second floor, and hotel rooms
were on floors three to four. Adams said Pink Home aimed to
create a venue that would change the perception of gay bars as
"seedy, flea-infested pits." He said that, "In China, it's all
about what you say and how you say it." For example, Pink Home
did not use the word "gay," but instead opted for "an exclusive
dance club" or "an exclusive gentlemen's bar" in its English and
Chinese ads. In contrast, a bar down the street from Pink Home,
after it witnessed Pink Home's full house and all-male
clientele, hung a huge rainbow flag in its window with a sign
that boldly stated, "We are a gay bar." The police shut it down
immediately. Adams added, it was one thing to be a gay venue,
but it was another thing to actually come out and say it. He
noted that police were more fixated on whether a venue sold
drugs, and the presence of drugs created a definite police
flash-point for any establishment. He believed that as long as
Pink Home was not allowing visible use of drugs the police would
continue to ignore other aspects of the business.

"MANAGING" THE POLICE
--------------


8. (C) According to Adams, Pink Home could be closed at anytime
and he has worked hard to "manage" the police. Adams said that
police dropped by constantly to discuss fire codes, light codes
and to inquire about an anti-drug campaign. The police never
discussed the nature of Pink Home or asked about public health
concerns, such as HIV/AIDS or other STDs. To initially receive
permission to open Pink Home and keep police raids at a minimum,
Adams and his Shanghainese business partner Ricky Liu hosted
monthly dinners for three Shanghai City policemen at various
Chinese restaurants. The dinners were held in private banquet
rooms where the courses were interspersed with shots of rice
liquor and ended with Mr. Liu presenting them with a "hongbao"

SHANGHAI 00000326 003 OF 003


or red envelope full of cash. The police never asked for the
money, suggested an amount, or said much when they received the
money. However, if they did not receive the money, Pink Home
experienced a substantial increase in visits from the police,
impediments to construction or raids during business hours.


9. (C) Simon heard that the Shanghai police chief made 2000
RMB/month, but actually grossed around 200,000 RMB/month due to
monthly installments from clubs across the city. He also noted
that when Pink Home's business did well, then the red envelope
amounts had to increase in proportion. Simon believed that all
of Shanghai's clubs paid monthly salaries to the police, but
paused when asked if Pink Home had to pay more since it was a
gay venue. "They know what we do," he said, "and they may use
that to their advantage."

COMMENT
--------------


10. (C) Chinese society has largely not acknowledged the gay
community (reftel A). For the most part, members of the gay
community have made peace with their ambiguous legal status.
There are few people like the lawyer Zhou Dan who openly push
for gay rights and there are few mechanisms available to the
people to push for change in any area of Chinese political life.
This is unlikely to change in the near future. While the
police and society at large blithely overlook this segment of
Shanghai life, they do seem to recognize the implications of the
pink renminbi. Therefore, businesses catering to the gay
community have adopted standard practices for securing their
livelihoods in Shanghai, which is to make sure everyone reaps
the benefits.
JARRETT