China’s LGBTQ crackdown persists with rainbow attire banned at concerts

In a growing clampdown on LGBTQ expression in China, attendees of a pop singer’s concert in Beijing reported being prohibited from displaying rainbow imagery on clothing. This incident unfolded during a live show by Taiwanese artist A-Mei held at the Cadillac Arena on August 6.

Fans shared their experiences on social media, revealing that they were prevented from donning rainbow-themed shirts within the venue. Several attendees recounted their encounters with security guards who instructed them to either conceal rainbow designs or change out of rainbow-patterned clothing. One individual shared that they were asked to reverse their rainbow-printed shirt to hide the imagery, while another attendee’s colour-changing shirt triggered a security intervention. Despite inquiries, security guards offered no explanation for the apparel ban.

Although attendees at A-Mei’s subsequent concert on Sunday reported no rainbow imagery, some speculated that heightened awareness following Saturday’s incident might have influenced this outcome. The setlist also saw adjustments, omitting A-Mei’s song “Rainbow”, which typically conveys queer themes. This shift was paralleled by the removal of rainbow visuals from the background of another song.

Pop star A-Mei herself is renowned for championing LGBTQ rights. She became Taiwan Pride’s first ambassador in 2007 and has organised events supporting same-sex marriage and equality.

This incident serves as another indicator of the escalating pressure faced by the LGBTQ community in China. Despite President Xi Jinping’s push for traditional gender and sexual identity norms, LGBTQ groups continue to be suppressed. In 2021, multiple LGBTQ-affiliated WeChat accounts were shut down, and a significant LGBTQ centre shut its doors after 15 years. The crackdown also led to the cancellation or postponement of multiple Pride-related events.

While some individuals in China perceive LGBTQ as products of Western influence, the suppression of rainbow imagery stands in stark contrast to the active promotion of gay rights by embassies in Beijing. As such, the situation underscores broader tensions over LGBTQ rights and expression within the nation.


Join our newsletter