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Police raided a popular gay bar on Shanghai’s Bund riverfront over the weekend, taking more than 60 people into custody for several hours, state media reported today.
Police said “pornographic” shows were taking place when they arrived at the Q Bar in the early hours of Sunday, the Shanghai Daily reported.
All those detained – DJs, customers and bar staff – were released later yesterday, the report said. Some were held for up to 12 hours.
Police and the bar owners were not immediately available for comment today when contacted by AFP.
Police gave no details about the shows that were allegedly being staged at the bar, which is a block away from the police station, the newspaper said.
However, the report cited migrant workers who live in a makeshift shelter on the roof of the building where the bar is situated that they “often saw naked men on the roof, drinking beer, chatting loudly, and even having sex”.
Tolerance towards gays in China has been slowly rising – but still lags behind other Asian countries. China has an estimated 30 million homosexuals, two-thirds of them men, according to previous press reports.
Homosexuality was a crime in China until 1997, and it was officially considered a mental illness until 2001. Since then, however, an increasing number of gay and lesbian events has taken place.
China’s first gay pride festival was held in Shanghai in 2009, albeit in a discreet fashion and with some events cancelled at the last minute by the authorities.
Steven Bao, a DJ at the Q Bar, said he believed the raid was the result of fierce competition between clubs, suggesting other venues had complained to police to create problems for the bar and its patrons.
Bao wrote on his microblog that for nearly 12 hours he “was kept in custody like a dog with no food or drinks”.
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