Letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao re: Beijing Gay and Lesbian Culture Festival

“Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network write to protest the arbitrary action of Beijing police who on December 16 closed down the First Annual Beijing Gay and Lesbian Culture Festival. The suppression of the festival, on whatever pretext, violates fundamental rights to freedoms of expression and assembly. Furthermore, in view of China’s burgeoning HIV/AIDS crisis, the closure threatens to drive further underground a segment of the population the Chinese government itself has identified as in need of lifesaving outreach services. Social stigma and legal harassment have already made such efforts highly difficult. In addition, the closure limits the likelihood of free and open discussion of sexuality and safer sex throughout China . . . .”

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