LGBT event in China cancelled after organisers detained and told: ‘you are not welcome’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An LGBT conference in China has been cancelled after police detained nine LGBT activists and told them LGBT events were not welcome in their city.

Sunday’s Speak Out conference in the north-west city of Xi’an was expected to welcome 400 people for a celebration and discussion of LGBT rights.

Instead, the event’s nine organisers were detained all day, stopped from contacting anyone, and told what they were doing was wrong.

LGBT event in China cancelled after organisers detained and told: ‘you are not welcome’

“In those eight hours, we were completely cut off from the world – we were clearly told: ‘LGBT events can never be held in Xi’an,’ ‘Xi’an does not welcome LGBT events,’ and other such warnings,” the conference’s curator wrote, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

Another organiser, who went by Matthew, said to Reuters: “They were very clear in telling us we couldn’t organise activities in Xi’an again, and that they didn’t welcome gays.”

The organisers were forced to turn over their mobiles and give authorities administrator-level access to their devices, as well as a list of speakers due to take part in the event, they added.

The team had to cancel the conference early on Sunday morning after five venues accepted then cancelled bookings for the event.

Venues reportedly gave reasons ranging from fire safety concerns to other events taking precedence.

But the curator explained that no valid reason was needed for any of this discrimination.

“This is in China,” they wrote.

“If you ask me what kind of power can represent Xi’an to say that it ‘does not welcome LGBT’ activities, and what kind of people are ‘obstructing’ the event, I can only shrug my shoulders,” they added.

“I don’t know either, because no one told me. What is the reason for it ‘being cancelled’? It’s ‘no reason.’”

The organisers, who have held a successful event in Xi’an before, as well as in Chongqing and Chengdu in the south-west China, have promised to refund all tickets.

The news comes after Chinese lesbian dating app Rela, which has more than five million users, was closed last week.

Its website and main social media account were also taken offline.

The Chinese LGBT community had been enjoying a surge of optimism after the highest court in Taiwan ordered its parliament to legalise same-sex marriage.

Also last week, a Chinese tech company completed its buy-out of gay dating app Grindr.

Beijing Kunlun Tech finalised the acquisition after initially investing in the app, popular with gay and bisexual men around in the world, back in January 2016.