The Beijing LGBT Center is the most recent organization to shut down amidst the Chinese government’s crackdown, led by President Xi Jinping. The Center was an advocacy group functioning as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community in Beijing.
On Monday night, an announcement appeared on the Beijing LGBT Center’s official WeChat account, which stated, “With deep regret, we hereby announce that, owing to circumstances beyond our control, the Beijing LGBT Center will cease its operations from today.”
The closure of the group signifies a substantial setback for advocacy organizations that previously had the ability to openly engage in promoting LGBTQ+ rights.
According to an anonymous Chinese activist, although not the first or the largest, the Beijing LGBT Center held symbolic importance for China’s LGBT movement due to its location in Beijing.
The Beijing LGBT Center — despite the nationwide crackdown on human rights advocates and lawyers since President Xi took office in 2015 — remained steadfast in publicly advocating for rights, including same-sex marriage.
The first clampdown
In 2021, a prominent organization called LGBT Rights Advocacy China, known for strategic lawsuits to drive policy change and expand rights, closed its doors. The group’s founder was detained, and the organization’s dissolution was a condition for his release.
Before the clampdown, LGBT Rights Advocacy China had established a network of sympathetic lawyers dedicated to assisting LGBTQ+ individuals confronted with matters of the law. On top of that, the group had conducted several high-profile nationwide campaigns advocating for policy reforms.
However, in recent years, the pressure from law enforcement on rights organizations has escalated. In July 2021, WeChat shut down numerous accounts related to LGBTQ+ topics, operated by university students and non-profit groups.
In response, some groups attempted to evade censorship by changing their names and removing terms like “gay” or “sexual minority,” but these efforts proved largely ineffective.
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