It’s Gay Pride month in China.
As recently as 2001, homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness in China.
You’re still allowed to discriminate against someone based on their sexuality and hospitals were only banned from therapy to “correct” homosexuality in 2014.
(Although this man claims a hospital recently drugged and beat him for 19 days trying to cure him of his “sexual preference disorder”.)
Marches and public protests are all but banned and pressure from families is still so great for sons and daughters to enter into “traditional marriages”, just 5% of China’s LGBT population are publicly open about their sexuality.
But sentiment is slowly heading in the right direction. A recent (unsuccessful) lawsuit allowed a gay couple to plead their same-sex marriage case in front of a court.
And, in Shanghai at least, film festivals such as ShanghaiPRIDE are… tolerated.
This year’s event opened on Sunday and runs for the week. Around 40 films – half of them Chinese – will be “films about transgender and non-binary experience”, according to the festival’s website.
And tucked away on its Facebook page is some all-important star power. Sir Ian McKellen, was in China recently posted hijinks like this on Twitter to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death:
— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) June 8, 2016
But he couldn’t hang around for the launch of ShanghaiPRIDE. So he sent them this amazing message of support instead:
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