Last edited: June 12, 2004

China Arrests 37 Homosexuals

The Associated Press, July 7, 2000

BEIJING – Police have arrested 37 gay men in southern China at the start of a nationwide anti-vice campaign, a rights group and police official said Friday.

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.

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