Public support for men in drag in row with Chinese police

By Paul Harrison and Kerry Allen
BBC UGC and Social News and BBC Monitoring

image sourceThe Paper
image captionVideo of the heated discussion between the men in drag and police has been viewed three million times online

A video of a heated altercation between three men in drag and police officers in the city of Suzhou has started tens of thousands of people talking about LGBT rights in China.

The video has been widely shared and viewed more than three million times on the Chinese video-sharing site on Miaopai.

According to local reports, three heavily made-up men wearing glitzy clothing were walking along Guanqian Street, the city's popular thoroughfare, on 3 July and were "attracting the attention of many passers-by" who took pictures of them.

The scene became "chaotic" and police stepped in and asked them to leave.

Eyewitnesses said the men in drag were walking as though they were "on the catwalk".

image sourceThe Paper
image captionSome online have criticised the police's handling of the situation

One of the men in drag argued with officers in the video: "What concern is it of you? What I wear has nothing to do with you, am I wrong? What I wear has nothing to do with you! I can wear whatever I like!"

The argument continued and a police officer pushed the man in the neck, but the altercation came to an end when the men "were given a lecture and urged to leave the area".

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There is growing awareness of LGBT issues in China.

Homosexuality was decriminalised more than two decades ago, but conservative attitudes still prevail in many parts of the country.

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Tens of thousands of users have discussed the video on Weibo, China's biggest social media site. They are split over how they see the incident.

The majority are critical of the treatment of the men, with one user receiving thousands of comments for saying: "I think it's their personal freedom, and they're not harming anybody."

"Does the law stipulate that boys can't wear skirts?" another adds.

One poster commented: "I don't like to see this style of dress, but their behaviour is not illegal."

"This is discrimination; there's not enough social tolerance," says another.

But others felt uncomfortable about cross-dressing in public, with one saying, "It looks bad, and affects the city's image."

Another user defended the officers: "I think the correct thing is to maintain order, it's their job to disperse crowds."

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