China Won't Send Delegate to Mr. Gay Pageant

By: Anita Chang & Ian MacDougall - AP Writers
By: Anita Chang & Ian MacDougall - AP Writers

BEIJING (AP) - China will not send a delegate to the Worldwide
Mr. Gay pageant next month, an organizer said Monday, after police
blocked an event to choose a Chinese contestant.

Police shut down the first-ever Mr. Gay China pageant just
before the event started Friday, but organizers had planned to
privately select a candidate from the eight contestants. They have
now reversed their decision, so no one from China will compete at
the pageant in Oslo, Norway.

"This was a very carefully considered decision," said Ben
Zhang, a pageant organizer. "We just cannot send anyone, the
organizers and competitors came to this decision together."

Zhang declined to elaborate on the reasons for not sending a

Worldwide Mr. Gay Executive Producer Tore Aasheim told The
Associated Press that he was "saddened and surprised that the
Chinese authorities took such steps."

"China once again shows that they don't honor human rights,"
he said.

Homosexuality remains a sensitive topic in China. Gays are
frequently discriminated against and ostracized, and any Chinese
national who competes at the Norway pageant would likely be the
target of uncomfortable scrutiny, especially after police canceled
Mr. Gay China.

Police cited a lack of permits for canceling the pageant at a
swanky Beijing club. Chinese authorities frequently cite procedural
reasons for closing down gatherings deemed politically sensitive.

The pageant would have featured a fashion show and a host in

Aasheim said that the Mr. Gay China organizers told him that
they decided not to participate in the worldwide competition in
Oslo next month after Chinese officials threatened to strip any
attendees of citizenship.

"If any of the participants travel to Oslo, they won't be
allowed to return to China," Aasheim said. "They'd risk losing
their citizenship, losing their right to go home. It's a cruel
thing to do."

He added that Chinese officials had confiscated the Chinese
organizers' passports.

In response, Aasheim said his organization plans to stream the
Worldwide Mr. Gay competition in February online and to grant
access for free to any Chinese Web sites that want to host the live
video feed.

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