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4 Apr 2011

Police raid new gay bar in Shanghai, dozens detained

Police in Shanghai on Sunday raided and detained at least 50 patrons of a new gay bar on the Bund. Kenneth Tan reports from Shanghai, China.

Update (Apr 4): Shanghai Daily reports that according to the police, they were investigating the bar for staging "sex shows"; bar's DJ says he believes the raid to be the result of fierce competition among local bars.

Early (on Sunday) morning at around 1am, police raided Q Bar, a new gay bar on the Bund, and detained at least 50 patrons of the bar.

The party-goers are understood to have been locked up at the Huangpu PSB's Xiaodongmen police station for about ten hours and are still being detained as you read this.

Q Bar Shanghai. Photos: qbarshanghai.com

One of the unfortunate detainees is a young Shanghainese man by the name of Steven Bao (also an acquaintance of your correspondent), who was dj-ing for the evening.

Tweeting from his iPhone to his Sina Weibo account, Bao complains that they have been "locked up like dogs" in the cold, without their clothes (Update: Shanghaiist has confirmed that detainees were not stripped -- many did not have access to their jackets which were back in the bar), and without a single drop of water. Bao also appears to have been roughed up after asking for his clothes before his mobile phone ran out of power.

Tweets from Steven Bao and other friends of the detainees have spread like wildfire on Sina Weibo, eliciting angry responses from members of the LGBT community across China.

A raid of this size on a gay bar has not been seen in Shanghai for years. In 2007, the former Club Deep, located in Jingan Park, had its Halloween party raided, shut down, and several party-goers detained for alleged drug abuse. 

Under Chinese law, the police can detain people without trial for a maximum of 24 hours, but let's hope the party-goers don't have to wait another 14 hours to be free. 

Update 1, 14:42 (Apr 3): The two Chinese proprietors of the bar, both named Tony, are confirmed to have been detained by police.

Update 2, 14:50 (Apr 3): Two foreigners (Asians) Shanghaiist spoke to wrote in to say, "[My partner] and i were there last nite also and were also brought to the police station! but we kept saying we were foreigners in english and they let us go after about an hour *phew* but police attitude was really quite bad. i did not see any violence when we were there but there WAS a lot of pushing and shoving." According to their estimation, there were about five Caucasian patrons in the bar, but none of them were brought to the station. All other Chinese-looking party-goers were taken to the station in a police minivan in batches.

Update 3, 14:54 (Apr 3): Some of the detainees appear to have been released from the police station, bar about twenty plus people. The above-named bar proprietors have not been released.

Update 4, 15:19 (Apr 3): One of those released @Xiaowuzhi tweets: “When I was young, our teacher told us to love our country, and I have always loved China with a deep love. Today, I hate that I'm a Chinese! I am one of the unfortunate victims of the April 2 raid on Q Bar. In the ten plus hours we were locked up, we were kept without food or water, and this is inexcusable! Police attitude was also extremely rough! 60-70 people all cold and hungry and thirsty and tired. What law have we broken just drinking at a bar? If there was any problem with the bar, why let it operate in the first place?”

And later: "I and [my partner] have already been released. Thank you all for your concern. On our way back, we received many text messages and calls from our friends and we both shed tears -- we're angry, we're frustrated, we're touched. Fortunately throughout the entire process, we had each other, so we were never alone."

Update 5, 15:28 (Apr 3): Another newly-released party-goer Shanghaiist spoke to told us the following:

- Detainees were not stripped, but many did not have access to their jackets which were back in the bar

- Among the detainees were a handful of female bar patrons.

- They were kept mostly in three rooms, one had about forty over people, one had twenty over people, and the third had about five or six bar employees, including the gogo boy dancing that night.

- They were not made to undergo a urine test, so this was not a drug raid. But they did have their ID numbers and pictures taken, and were questioned one by one. Most of the questions appeared to be pointed at the gogo boy act: "Did he take it all off?" "Were his genitals visible?" "Were bar patrons inserting bills into his thong?"

Update 6, 15:48 (Apr 3): Most of the detainees have been released, save about 10 or so.

Update 7, 16:01 (Apr 3): Another person released @hotboyjerry chimes in: "After being ignored for 8-9 hours for no rhyme or reason, a policeman finally appears. When we ask when we can begin 'assisting in the investigations', the fucking policeman actually had the cheek to say all 70 of us were criminal suspects!! I just went to the bar for a drink! What crime did I commit?! Did I accept bribes? Abuse my power? Commit arson? Or sell counterfeit products? Was I in the wrong just because I went to a gay bar?"

A minor skirmish is understood to have taken place between the police and detainees early this morning. When a few of them attempted to take video recordings of what happened, they had their mobile phones confiscated.

Update 8, 18:18 (Apr 3): Another person describes the record-taking process: "I was asked for my name, address, work details, why I went to this gay bar, how I got to know of this bar, was I there just to watch the sexy gogo boy performance. Then he told me, you know, we've invited you here to be a witness. This is not against you. You need to cooperate with us. Once you're done cooperating, you can go home and rest, and won't have to stay here any longer. Later, he asked me about the details of the two dance performances -- was he wearing a transparent brief, was anyone inserting money into his underwear, etc. This went on for a while, and then he began typing. For most other people, he would type as the answers came to his questions, but in my case, he started typing only after he was done asking questions. When the computer printout finally came, it was just as I expected. The details related to the second dance performance were not what I said at all. I had said, I was drinking with friends, with my back towards the bar, so I didn't notice what was going on. I said, I'm unable to sign this. Then the policeman told me to go back to the room and continue waiting. "

This report was first published by Shanghaiist on Apr 3, 2011 and is republished with permission. Kenneth Tan is a Singaporean blogger and businessman living in Shanghai, China. His blog is at kennethism.com.


Reader's Comments

1. 2011-04-04 15:16  
this is insane. police, you moron.
2. 2011-04-04 16:13  
So what was the objective of the raid?
3. 2011-04-04 16:40  
God... Not good.
Maybe the owners did not 'support' local police authorities.
It is insane that in some places in Shanghai you can have sex for money almost officially and everybody knows it and police does not do anything to them!

Here, probably because it is a gay place, they are looking for small reasons to shut the place down.
4. 2011-04-04 18:56  
This is a whole new level of absurdity. I thought it's a shame that Singapore gives no liberty to homosexual expression in the public, now I'm relieved that we at least have legal rights and a less if not non-corrupt government.
5. 2011-04-04 19:18  
The police are just too free to do the raid and fuck those cute boys =) ... they are horny anyway.
6. 2011-04-04 19:43  
Seems like it isn't safe to patronize 'gay places' anymore.....:(
7. 2011-04-04 19:43  
Seems like it isn't safe to patronize 'gay places' anymore.....:(
8. 2011-04-04 20:17  
Simple answer-they did not pay tea money to the local police and the triads.
9. 2011-04-04 20:19  
In a corrupt totalitarian regime such as china nobody is genuinely safe just as nobody is genuinely free.

In this case...as always...follow the money. New bar...causing drop off in business for other bars...they talk to their contacts at the police who they pay off to raid the new bar.

Simple really!
10. 2011-04-04 20:23  
Seems to be an increase in harassment of gays/gay establishments in China the past year. I have read about arrests in parks in Beijing, gay sauna raid in Beijing, last October 3 bars in Shanghai were closed the Saturday of Halloween weekend. In the cases of the sauna and the 3 bars last October, all businesses were open again the next day, so I would assume the legality of the business was not an issue... maybe someone just did not receive their payoff that week.
11. 2011-04-04 21:24  
so what is this in the end? 70 witnesses detained to testify against one gogo boy?? ㅡ.ㅡ''
12. 2011-04-04 22:08  
With so many human rights abuses in China, when are a majority of people going to stand up and say "ENOUGH?" Until that happens, we'll keep hearing these types of stories again and again.
13. 2011-04-04 22:33  
i believe this two line that was the worst part of this article:

"When the computer printout finally came, it was just as I expected. The details related to the second dance performance were not what I said at all."

14. 2011-04-04 22:55  
Times will change however, not without your continued pressure on demanding answers. It is a very different political enviornment. There is strength in international meda and mass numbers. I understand this huge issue from both perspectives. Had I have had my holidays one time I would have been in the club.
15. 2011-04-04 23:31  
theyre probably gonna raid the saunas next. ehh, I'm not surprised by this, its the same when China and Korea claimed that they had no gay nationals. BAH
16. 2011-04-04 23:36  
i hope everyone got let go.. i would find out who sent the police there.. it is messed up.. LGBT stick together and fight for your rights..
17. 2011-04-05 00:10  
this is really pathetic...
Comment #18 was deleted by its author on 2011-04-05 00:13
Comment #19 was deleted by its author on 2011-04-05 00:13
20. 2011-04-05 00:19  
How many gay bars does Shanghai have to make a competition so fierce that the government has to intervene?
21. 2011-04-05 00:35  
Why is it I dont visit mainland China? Oh yeah, I remember now
22. 2011-04-05 00:51  
I hope the next time such a bar raid happens in China or anywhere, the gay people fight back with the police, stand up for our equal rights, and fight this harassment. Gays should fight the police in the streets!

Sound familiar????? Yes, the Stonewall Riots in New York, June 1969.

I was there, I was detained, and joined in the fight with the police outside for two nights......"man and woman and trans - up gays!" fight our rights to be free and equal!
23. 2011-04-05 02:23  
In China there are so many abuses of human rights, there are 1.3 billion people in the country ho need to realise that they CAN rise up and stand against these kind of things.
24. 2011-04-05 02:23  
... and if they do, who will be able to stand against them?
25. 2011-04-05 02:52  
This is truly absurd... I can't believe that they were detained and the information they told were completely ignored and were fabricated by the police... Really outrageous and messed up... Sigh...
26. 2011-04-05 03:47  
It's China, I never liked the country, even though I am Chinese... not from China. And seriously, there are more important things in China that needs fixing than having a drink at a "gay" bar. Get your priorities right. No wonder China is the way China is even today!
27. 2011-04-05 05:01  
I am going to be in Shanghai in 2 weeks, and this news is VERY SCARY!
28. 2011-04-05 05:52  
China is continually taking steps backward. What kind of country is this?
Comment #29 was deleted by its author on 2011-04-05 07:14
30. 2011-04-05 07:17  
Wow, this is a really bad situation... and to think I actually wanted to go out clubbing...urgh!
there are gay bathouses where people have sex... why not go raid those places, why raid social gathering places, like gaybars...
Shame, I hope the rest of the guys get out alright :(
31. 2011-04-05 07:22  
Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal. It may not have been necessarily moral, ethical or just but it was legal.Therefore this can apply to China or any other nation in the world where the government is for the government rather than for the people. If for example the Mainland Chinese government decided that if you wear the color pink you could be arrested and you wore pink then they could arrest you. As silly as this may sound it is still a sad reality in so many countries around the world. China raids a gay bar-for what purpose?
Malaysia makes a big deal about a gay movie-why? Singapore bans The Kids Are Alright because it promotes a positive lesbian lifestyle-so what?
32. 2011-04-05 07:32  
Please go to the link below:
Live Animals Being Sold as Keyrings in China :

If China can do this to live animals imagine what they could do to humans if they chose to do so.................food for thought.
33. 2011-04-05 08:04  
Most likely someone didn't pay an expected bribe so the result was a raid for a new bar. You figure 8 to 20 police don't just happen to show up at a gay bar and only hours of questioning later are asking the question "Did the dancer show too much skin?"
34. 2011-04-05 08:19  
I went to buy some kitchen stuff the other day and there was nothing not made in china so I left empty handed.. I refuse to support that corrupt communist dictatorship with MY hard earned cash, if every one boycotts chinese goods and services they will soon get the hint
35. 2011-04-05 08:25  
Money!!!! Police want to get extra subsidy from gay!
36. 2011-04-05 08:37  
In every society, there exists a system - bound by rules. Some make the rules, others follow while another group subvert the system. Someone obviously forgot to pass over an envelope of cash on time.
37. 2011-04-05 08:39  
Yes, that is a poor way for a country's officials to regard its citizens. but I'll give you some context. Canada's police had the same attitude toward gay people until not so long ago. "Operation Soap was a raid by the Metropolitan Toronto Police against four gay bathhouses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which took place on February 5, 1981. More than three hundred men were arrested, the largest mass arrest in Canada since the 1970 October crisis." You can read about this story at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Soap. We in the west sometimes forget that our police are just as stupid, just as brutal.
38. 2011-04-05 08:59  
obviously ..the cops , politicians,triads and all the rest were not paid the monthly bribe.... its asia what do u expect.
39. 2011-04-05 09:08  
this is namely sad. :(
Comment #40 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:54
41. 2011-04-05 10:47  
It's really great to see that Shanghai has such a great handle on actual crime that their police officers can spend their time raiding gay bars instead of having to trifle with real criminals. Wow. Good to know. Robberies, assaults, petty theft, organized crime rings, murders, white collar crime -- all just completely dealt with and suppressed, thus freeing up law enforcement to pursue a life of homophobia and intimidation. Brilliant.
42. 2011-04-05 10:52  
China is a conservative thinking country. China Gay Communities should do more events, activities, unite themselves to gain their rights developmentally.
43. 2011-04-05 12:19  
Probably a rival bar owner paid off the local police's night shift boss to stage a raid. Why this really happened we probably will never know, but more importantly to insist petty corruption doesn't happen again.
44. 2011-04-05 13:21  
Deeply sorry to hear some kind of insane news. Maybe crops in Shanghai have still been very hungry from money the owner should feed them more to make them survival. How crazy they are!!!
Anyway I wish someday world balance will be at gay everywhere.
45. 2011-04-05 13:53  
Guys.. keep in mind, the Chinese police generally don't go around harassing gay people. Just because a gay bar was raided doesn't mean it's an attack on gay people in general. Gays do wrong things too, and if they were doing illegal things, then the police have the right to raid it...

I don't think the Chinese government need to be condemned and Chinese products boycotted over this. I live in China, and as much as there are complaints against the governments (which exist in the even the best of countries), but the Chinese government has also some good points, that are never shown on bbc or CNN etc.. , so hold up on the anti-China stuff til you've looked deeper into the country..

Think about this...If it was a raid on a bar, it's fine. But it if it's on a gay bar, it's anti-gay. If ten people are arrested it's fine, but if they are all of a minority group, it's homophobia, or racism etc... Maybe we should fully find out the facts first... (which the Chinese govt. most often doesn't like to openly share...)

Ps: I'm ready for the backlash against my comments... ㅡ_ㅡ
46. 2011-04-05 14:26  
This is why I will never visit China. A gross lack of human rights and a lack of freedom of choice. Totally unacceptable and unforgivable.
47. 2011-04-05 14:53  
I was so shocked when reading this news, however, considering the so-called "Chinese traditional culture", they may raise this to raid the gay bar theoretically. In addition, this kind of similar case happened in Malaysia a few years ago in accordane with their religious rules. Now I am waiting to hear the suitable reason from the police.

Hope all is going ok with of all detainees.
48. 2011-04-05 15:13  
49. 2011-04-05 15:58  
i have been to shanghai and i had great fun i love you chinese guys ,
the more of you that come out of the closet and support each other especialy with your straight friends the harder it is for homophobes to continue their hate campaign against you .im sure at least a couple of those chinese police was closet gays and afraid.
what china needs is some open gay government officials to fight for equality if u.k can do it yes u.k was once very much homophobic until guys like oscar wilde/quentin crisp and many others stood up to be counted and said yes im gay and its my life .
wah i ni chinese gays
50. 2011-04-05 15:58  
i have been to shanghai and i had great fun i love you chinese guys ,
the more of you that come out of the closet and support each other especialy with your straight friends the harder it is for homophobes to continue their hate campaign against you .im sure at least a couple of those chinese police was closet gays and afraid.
what china needs is some open gay government officials to fight for equality if u.k can do it yes u.k was once very much homophobic until guys like oscar wilde/quentin crisp and many others stood up to be counted and said yes im gay and its my life .
wah i ni chinese gays
51. 2011-04-05 16:45  
In reference to # 45's comments I have lived & worked in China as well and never had any issues. However being of the minority the odds that we will be harassed be it gay,straight or anything else is minimal.That however is not the issue being discussed.If you read the articles progression of comments the foreigners, albeit Chinese, were released after 1 hour.The issue is why was the bar raided in the first place be it gay,straight or anything else in-between. So any government,in this case Mainland China,who does not want to "openly share"facts,who still does not report or issue a passenger list when a plane crashes within China, whose former leader had no value for life by saying " so what if students are killed at a protest we have over a billion Chinese"and whose government is for the government not the people in my world sucks.Anything China does that is positive and contrary to your comment that it is not reported on is done for "face" and nothing else.If you care to "look deeper" into your adopted homeland check out ChinaSmack.com and then let's discuss this further.
52. 2011-04-05 18:03  
i m not going back to China, a country without any human rights and freedom..
53. 2011-04-05 19:35  
This is really disturbing :| the actions of the cops police were inappropriate, unfair and rude :| .. but then again, I think there is a need to hear the side of the police so people could think properly on giving their judgements on the issue..
54. 2011-04-05 19:53  
Why were the foreigners not detained?
As a foreigner, I'd be relieved.
On the other hand, as a Chinese I'd be super pissed off!
55. 2011-04-05 20:02  
feel sorry to hear that. wish some thing happens less in my home town Shanghai
56. 2011-04-05 21:52  
It's terrible. No reason for police to raid. Even they have evidences at the bar or not.
57. 2011-04-07 12:18  
corruption - discrimination - primitivism... how is the free world to understand China's emergence into modernism?
Comment #58 was deleted by an administrator on 2011-08-22 12:18

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