Pop fans report ban on rainbow clothing at concert in China

Concert goers in China are reportedly having rainbow apparel confiscated by security in what has been described as the latest crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights and expression. 

As reported by Time, fans of Taiwanese singer Chang Hui-mei – known by stage name A-Mei – said on social media that they were unable to wear shirts with rainbows on them inside the Cadillac Arena in Beijing on Saturday (5 August).

Taking to Chinese social media channels, one concert goer said a security guard asked them to turn their shirt inside out to hide the rainbow drawn on the front 

“When I watched A-Mei, it was at Beijing Workers’ Sports Complex in 2015. Back then we could still pass around a gigantic rainbow flag,” a user on Xiaohongshu, China’s version of Instagram, wrote. “Now the security guard is really carefully checking all the rainbow elements. What exactly are you afraid of?”

Another person said they were stopped as their shirt changed colour with reflective lighting. 

Tian, an attendee who was identified by just their surname, went to the A-Mei concert on Sunday (6 August) and said he did not see any rainbows in the audience – nor did he see security remove any clothing. 

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However, the 30-year-old, who is gay, thought there was the possibility that attendees were more cautious after seeing the social media posts about rainbows being removed the previous night so did not bring them. 

A participant poses for pictures holding a sign reading ‘I am Chinese, I am gay’ during the ‘Marcha del Orgullo’ Pride parade in Madrid, on 9 July 2022. (OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

The alleged crackdown on rainbow colours comes amid increasing restrictions on the LGBTQ+ community in China, a country which has previously had an ambivalent stance on LGBTQ+ people but is censoring more and more queer content from the public. 

The Chinese government has long been seen as having a stance of “no approval; no disapproval; no promotion” when it comes to LGBTQ+ people. This means that while homosexuality is legal in China, same-sex couples are unable to marry, adopt or receive the same protections as their heterosexual counterparts. 

More recently though, there has been growing concern from some factions in China that the LGBTQ+ community is a Western import and should not be encouraged. 

In 2021, a large number of WeChat accounts run by LGBTQ+ groups at leading universities were shut down. 

The following year, in July 2022, two students at Tsinghua University – the top university in China – were  issued warnings for distributing LGBTQ+ rainbow flags on campus. 

More recently, in May this year, a prominent LGBTQ+ centre was forced to shut its doors after 15 years serving the community.