Last edited: June 12, 2004

Raid in China Arrests 37 Gays

PlanetOut, July 8, 2000

The Chinese government is stepping up vice enforcement, and among the first to fall to the three-month campaign were 37 men arrested at a gay health spa, a police spokesperson told wire service reporters July 7. Guangzhou’s Junjie Men’s Beauty and Health Centre was raided on July 3 and shut down. It had only opened in February, but had already signed up hundreds of members.

A police spokesperson told the Associated Press that it was the biggest detention sweep against gays to date, but that while the owner of the Centre would certainly face criminal charges, the other men might be released. A police spokesperson told Reuters, "The men were not taken in because of their homosexuality, which is a voluntary mutual relationship, but because the Centre charged 200 to 500 yuan for their [sexual] services." To say the men were not arrested for being gay is probably a little less honest than President Jiang Zemin’s description of the broad anti-vice campaign launched July 1 as a law enforcement "strike against repulsive social phenomena."

China doesn’t have a sodomy law per se, but gay venues have been closed down and gay individuals incarcerated with charges of hooliganism; gays often report beatings and torture at the hands of police. Although at least for some urban gays it has become much easier in recent years to come out, to gather and even to organize to some degree, there are others who feel so persecuted that they have sought asylum in other countries.

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