One of China’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy groups has announced that it is ceasing operations, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
LGBT Rights Advocacy China announced on WeChat that it is closing indefinitely, and has shut down its social media accounts. A member of the organization confirmed to the AP that the group had ceased operations.
Prior to its closure, LGBT Rights Advocacy China played a prominent role in advocating for legal change in the country. The group filed a number of lawsuits challenging anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination,, including a custody case for a lesbian whose former partner had barred her access from their children.
“In the entire community, they gave us a lot of hope and guidance, giving everyone the confidence to go out there and do something,” one man, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told the AP. In 2018, the organization had helped him successfully sue a former employer for discrimination.
Although homosexuality isn’t criminalized in China, LGBTQ+ individuals remain vulnerable to discrimination. In recent months, however, the government has stepped up measures limiting advocacy groups and access to social media platforms, the AP reports.
Earlier this year, WeChat, which is one of the country’s most popular social media platforms, deleted dozens of accounts associated with university LGBTQ + groups, citing vague violations of the platform’s policies. Whether or not the government played a role in the shutdown remains unknown.
In 2020, Shanghai Pride abruptly shut down, leading many to speculate that the organization had succumbed to government pressures.
As of now, representatives of LGBT Rights Advocacy China have not stated why the advocacy organization has ceased operations.