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Queer social sorting: Control and resistance in China’s LGBTQ+ activism

16 May 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm AEST

People crossing dark city street

Join us for a public talk with Ausma Bernot on China's queer social sorting methods that include both automated decision-making and the use of human labour in enforcing queer “othering”.

Since 2013, LGBTQ+ activism in China has been progressively hampered by sophisticated queer social sorting methods that include both automated decision-making and the use of human labour in enforcing queer “othering”.

On the surface, China’s authorities maintain formal decorum and formulaic support for LGBTQ+ communities. Non-discrimination can be argued on the basis of formal UN announcements confirming China’s stance against LGBTQ+ discrimination as well as the gradual thawing of national laws that restrict LGBTQ+ communities, such as the recent 2022 regulations lowering the minimum age requirements for gender affirming surgery from 20 to 18. Concurrently, suppression of LGBTQ+ activism exists under the surface of international and national political decorum.

The state-sponsored control of queer activism is now increasingly linked to two elements: China’s call to return to traditional gender roles and social sorting of queer activism.

Queer social sorting is achieved through an interconnected means of the legal and regulatory frames, public and state security monitoring and harassment, and digital surveillance. This talk will unpack the web of those practices with a particular focus on inclusion of automated decision-making and the power dynamics they entrench.

About the speaker

Ausma Bernot

Ausma Bernot

Ausma Bernot is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Australian Graduate School of Policing & Security, Charles Sturt University. She has six years of work experience with forensic science and research organisations across the globe, in particular China, where she had the chance to gain insights on how technologies are governed at provincial and national levels.

Her current research focuses on the effects that the merging of infotech and biotech triggers in the fields of governance, surveillance, policing, and public safety. Along with Prof Patrick F Walsh, Ausma is working to advance the field of Health Security.

Ausma’s doctoral research explored the dynamic interaction between surveillance technologies and social context and questions totalisation of surveillance in China.


This is a hybrid event, hosted in-person at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society at RMIT University (RMIT Building 97, 106-108 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053) and online via Zoom (Zoom link will be emailed to you upon registering).

Tickets are free, however registration is essential.


16 May 2023
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm AEST
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ADM+S Centre, RMIT University
106-108 Victoria Street
Carlton, VIC 3053 Australia
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