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Harsh And Odd Restrictions Ahead Of China's Big Power Handoff



BEIJING – China is mobilizing its security apparatus and tightening its grip over the public space ahead of the 18th Communist Party Congress, which begins on Nov. 8.

A volunteer security force of 1.4 million people has been assembled for the congress.

Workers and retirees have been mobilized, reports Xinhua, quoting a street photographer named Chen: "I have been taking shots for tourists for five years, and I am willing to be a security volunteer. With this armband, I am authorized to stop bad behavior among tourists."

Heightened security isn't unusual ahead of government events, but this year authorities aren’t taking any chances: Kitchen knives have disappeared from shops, and vehicles carrying toxic or dangerous chemicals have been banned from entering Beijing, reports Xinhua.

The Chinese government is also locking down the skies above the capital, says Radio Australia. The city has banned balloons, remote control helicopters and planes, as well as homing pigeons. In the late 1990s, dissidents released pigeons with slogans tied to their feet.

The AP reported that a memo on Chinese migroblogging site Weibo warned cabdrivers to be on guard against passengers “who may want to cast balloons with slogans or throw Ping-Pong balls with reactionary words." Cabdrivers were told to remove window handles and not to open their windows or doors near "important venues." They were also asked to report "suspicious" passengers to the authorities.

Internet has also slowed down to a snail’s pace, reports the New York Times, with many websites being blocked. International TV channels like CNN and BBC have disappeared from television sets in health clubs. In English bookstores, books on Chinese politics and history have been replaced with thrillers and weight-loss guides. “They’ll be back after the Congress,” said an employee.

On Thursday, said the AP, China sentenced Cao Haibo, a democracy advocate, to eight years in prison on the charge of inciting subversion for starting several online groups and participating in political discussions.

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New Study Finds High Levels Of Anti-LGBTQ+ Discrimination In Buddhism

We tend to think of Buddhism as a religion devoid of commandments, and therefore generally more accepting than others. The author, an Australian researcher — and "genderqueer, non-binary Buddhist" themself — suggests that it is far from being the case.

Photo of a Buddhist monk in a Cambodia temple, walking away from the camera

Some Buddhist spaces can be highly heteronormative and show lack of understanding toward the LGBTQ+ community

Stephen Kerry

More than half of Australia’s LGBTQIA+ Buddhists feel reluctant to “come out” to their Buddhist communities and nearly one in six have been told directly that being LGBTQIA+ isn’t in keeping with the Buddha’s teachings.

These are some of the findings from my research looking at the experiences of LGBTQIA+ Buddhists in Australia.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

I’m a genderqueer, non-binary Buddhist myself and I was curious about others’ experiences in Australia since there has been no research done on our community before. So, in 2020, I surveyed 82 LGBTQIA+ Buddhists and have since followed this up with 29 face-to-face interviews.

Some people may think Buddhism would be quite accepting of LGBTQIA+ people. There are, after all, no religious laws, commandments or punishments in Buddhism. My research indicates, however, this is not always true.

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