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Violence at Dua Lipa Concert Is Latest Attack in China’s Crackdown on LGBTQ Community

A Dua Lipa concert in Shanghai ended in tears on Wednesday after fans were allegedly ejected for waving rainbow flags at the event.

Footage of the incident shows security guards forcibly dragging a female concertgoer out of her seat. On Twitter, those who witnessed the incident say the fan — whose name has not been reported in the media — “fell to the ground” before the officers on duty began violently “pulling her clothes.”

“She tried asking for help, but the people who wanted to help were stopped by the guards,” alleged social media user Shane Christian, whose profile claims he lives in Western Australia.

Christian added that authorities “beat her” after she was ejected and “prohibited her from entering the concert.”

Concertgoers told the BBC that staff with the National Exhibition and Convention Center were targeting individuals “just for standing up.” Others say, however, that the altercations took place after fans began hoisting Pride banners in support of the LGBTQ community.

Lipa responded to the violence from security staff with a tearful call for civility.

“I want us all to dance,” the British-Albanian singer behind “New Rules” pleaded. “I want us all to sing, I want us all to just have a really good time. I would love in these last few songs for us to really, really, really enjoy ourselves. How about that?”

Although China officially legalized homosexuality in 1997, this week’s incident is reflective of the country’s increasingly imperious approach to the LGBTQ community.

Two women were hospitalized in May after they were assaulted by security officers in Beijing’s 798 art district for wearing rainbow badges. After blocking them from entering the area with the Pride paraphernalia on display, footage of the attack shows officers punching the women and knocking them to the ground.

The badges were handed out by LGBTQ organizers earlier that day in tandem with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT).

Videos of the attack briefly trended on the Chinese social media website Sina Weibo, where the hashtag “798 Beating” was viewed more than 250,000 times. Commenters on the popular platform asked, “Are public security guards allowed to beat people?”

The video and hashtag were later blocked by Sina Weibo censors.

The microblogging site — which counts more users than Twitter — has often found itself at the center of the clash between Chinese authorities and the LGBTQ community.

After federal media regulators ruled that the publication of online materials related to homosexuality would be classified as “pornographic and vulgar content,” the platform announced a three-month ban on all LGBTQ content earlier this year. Sina Weibo quickly reversed the decision following the backlash.

A month later, the European Broadcasting Union revoked its contract with Hunan TV after it censored LGBTQ content at Eurovision. China’s second-most-watched channel blurred images of Pride flags during the event.

While Dua Lipa paid tribute to the “bravery” of her LGBTQ fans in an emotional Instagram post following Wednesday’s incident, the apparent crackdown parallels another series of attacks on the queer and trans community which took place almost exactly one year ago.

A day after the Lebanese band Mashrou Leila performed in Cairo, Egyptian police began arresting fans who waved Pride flags at the event. Authorities identified the alleged culprits on social media.

At least 57 people would be arrested in the month following the Sept. 22 concert.


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.