Early April this year, in the middle of a performance at Q Bar, a newly opened gay bar south of the Bund, police from the Huangpu district burst in, turned the lights on, and took about 70 bar employees and patrons (save the foreigners) with them to the Xiaodongmen police station.
At the station, they were locked up in three rooms, where they were left in the cold without food or water, unattended to and uninformed of what was happening next. Frantic, some of them began tweeting on Sina Weibo to get their friends to come save them. But it wasn’t until noon the next day when they were questioned by police, in some cases made to sign off on statements contrary to what they had said, and then subsequently released.
The police detained three individuals — the owner of the bar, the deejay for the evening and the dance performer. The deejay and the dancer were detained for several weeks (without trial), but the owner has been kept locked up since then till now.
The owner of the bar, known as Tony to his friends, is a high-flying professional who used to work with one of Shanghai’s major art museums. A highly respected member of the gay community, Tony was the owner of Vogue, one of Shanghai’s earlier gay bars, popular a decade ago. Q Bar was to be his comeback but things were not to be.
Today, we finally find out from the Shanghai Daily, that a trial has finally taken place after Tony’s been locked up for five months:
A local pub owner who organized gay performances was sentenced to five months in jail and fined 5,000 yuan (US$783) for pornography, the Huangpu District People’s Court said yesterday.
Wang Bing, 47, owns a pub in the downtown area and is also a marketing director of a local arts venue. When his pub first opened, business was not good, and he decided to try gay performances to attract customers.
Wang met Xiao Hui, a bar dancer, early last March and invited him to perform at his pub on March 18 and April 2. Xiao’s performance, naked on top and wearing transparent T-back, attracted several dozen customers to watch. Wang paid Xiao 600 yuan for each performance, according to the court.
Police soon raided the pub following complaints of nearby neighbors.
Wang pleaded guilty, claiming he regretted introducing the show. The court said Wang should be punished for organizing porn performances, but whether Xiao would be punished was not known yesterday.
Here’s a man who was detained without trial for five long months, deprived of access to legal representation, and then this sham of a trial is hastily put together when they’ve run out of options as to what to do with him.
There were seventy eye-witnesses that evening who can attest to the fact that there was no sex, no pornography and the dancer wasn’t even naked — so exactly what crime is he guilty of?
An absolute travesty of justice for which the Shanghai police ought to be ashamed. And a mockery of the rule of law on which this country says it runs.