Two women beaten by security guards in Beijing’s 798 art district for wearing rainbow badges
The security company has reportedly apologized to the women and vowed to dismiss the guards who beat them up
Following the beating on Sunday of two women who tried to enter Beijing’s 798 Art Zone while wearing rainbow badges, China’s LGBT community has once again found itself being censored and harassed, yet it remains resilient and outspoken.
An activist who goes by the name “Piaoquanjun” on Weibo had invited LGBT supporters to the capital’s trendy art district on Sunday in order to help show support for the upcoming International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which falls on May 17th.
Piaoquanjin said that he had 5,000 rainbow badges ready to hand out at the north gate of the district in exchange for hugs, however, he was told to stop what he was doing by the zone’s security guards. Meanwhile, those wearing the badges were barred from entering the art district by the guards.
Eventually, two women wearing the badges got into an argument with the guards which escalated into a scuffle. One 10-second video clip shows a woman being surrounded by around five security guards and thrown to the ground while another woman is shoved and punched.
Another 10-second clip shows the second woman being punched in the face by a guard, sending her to the ground. Meanwhile, the first woman stands back up, only to be grabbed and kicked by another guard as she tries to fight back.
An unnamed man working for the property management department of the 798 Art Zone told the Global Times that the whole scuffle began after one of the women gave one of the security guards the middle finger.
The man went on to say that the art zone “has a right to stop illegal activity” — apparently believing that wearing a rainbow badge constitutes illegal activity.
“Wearing a rainbow badge is illegal to me, and they, the homosexuals, have distorted sexual orientation, it is terrifying,” he said. “God created humans as they are.”
Activist Piaoquanjun said that following the incident he visited the two women in the hospital where one had stitches in her mouth and the other had bruises on her face.
The matter has reportedly since been resolved with the security company apologizing, promising to dismiss the three guards who beat up the women and compensate them for their injuries.
“Those two girls accepted the result because they have no more energy to expend,” wrote Chinese feminist activist Lü Pin on Twitter.
While the videos and news about the “798 beating” quickly went viral on Chinese social media on Sunday, becoming a trending topic, most clips, reports, and comments have been now taken down by censors.
That same fate has befallen a letter condemning the assault that was jointly issued by LGBT groups in China:
However, rather than let themselves be silenced, some Chinese LGBT and feminist activists — including Li Maizi, one of the “Feminist Five”— have since flocked to Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, carrying with them rainbow flags:
Meanwhile, it’s not only Beijing’s LGBT community that is running into problems with authorities. According to the Global Times, events in both Guangzhou and Shanghai to mark the International Day against Homophobia have been cancelled as “illegal gatherings.”
Despite the frequency of LGBT events being shut down by local authorities, the nationalistic Chinese tabloid claims that Chinese society is becoming more and more open to gay rights, arguing that China’s LGBT community only needs to be patient and stop causing scenes.
The tabloid quotes a sexology professor in Wuhan as saying that “high-profile events could lead to a public panic or even discrimination in Chinese society, which benefits no one.”
“A little more time should be given to the country and society to progress step by step,” the professor says.
While homosexuality is not illegal in China, gay content is banned from Chinese TV shows and online videos. Last month, Weibo tried to issue a similar ban on gay content, but was forced to quickly reverse course after tens of thousands of netizens protested the move, rallying around the viral hashtag: #iamgay.
Last week, Eurovision banned Chinese online streaming platform Mango TV from airing the rest of the contest after it completely censored one song from an Irish artist which featured a pair of male dancers acting out a gay love story and blurred out a rainbow flag in the background of another performance.