According to police, a male dancer was performing a “pornographic” show when they arrived at the Q Bar in the early morning hours on Sunday.
The raid, which coincides with one of the most concerted government crackdowns on dissent in a decade, sent a chill through China’s burgeoning gay community, which in recent years has grown self-confident despite intermittent harassment from the authorities. Gay activists say they cannot recall an incident in which so many people were taken into custody in one fell swoop.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997 and officially removed from a list of mental disorders in 2001 although it remains largely taboo, and invisible.
During the past two years, organizers in Shanghai have tried to stage a low-key gay pride festival, although on both occasions the authorities have ordered the last-minute cancellation of several events — including social mixers, film screenings and a play performance — without explanation.
A police report cited complaints of “naked men on the roof, drinking beer, chatting loudly, and even having sex” as the reason for the raid.
Steven Bao, a DJ at the bar, said he believed the raid was the result of fierce competition among local bars, suggesting that it was other bars who had complained to police that the bar was staging sex shows, the Shanghai Daily reported.