The arrests Monday at a gymnasium in Guangzhou city were
the largest detention sweep against homosexuality yet in China, the official said by
telephone from the city, a thriving provincial capital near Hong Kong.
Homosexuality is illegal in China, although a relaxation of social rules over the past
20 years has created a more tolerant atmosphere. Gay bars are common and some cities have
gay information telephone hotlines.
The owner and manager of the Heroes Gym will face criminal charges, but the other
men might be released, said the police official, who would not give his name.
The official said a similar crackdown had taken place in the past in the southwestern
province of Sichuan, but with fewer arrests.
The Heroes Gym had become a popular meeting spot for hundreds of gay men since it
opened in February, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights
and Democracy, which first reported the arrests.
The Guangzhou police press office confirmed that the arrests took place but refused to
provide other details or give a reason.
The case comes during a three-month nationwide crackdown on prostitution, drugs and
vice that started July 1.