Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shanghai to city's first gay pride festival

A week-long gay pride festival gets under way in Shanghai this weekend, the first time the city has held an event like it.

There will not be a parade. The organisers took legal advice which suggested that might get them into trouble with the authorities.

Instead, there will be film screenings, talks, an art exhibition and a large, all-day party at a privately-owned venue.

Gay sex was decriminalised in 1997 in China. Before that, people used to be prosecuted under "hooliganism" laws.

Homosexuality was described officially as a mental illness in China until 2001.

Although China is a very conservative society, surveys suggest the majority of the population are reasonably tolerant of gay people.

However, there is intense pressure on young Chinese to get married, so it can be difficult for gay Chinese to be open about their sexuality.

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