Midnight Blue established in Hong Kong and Shenzen, China

Midnight Blue is Hong Kong and mainland China’s first exclusively male sex worker organisation, and was founded by a collaboration of male sex workers, labour rights activists and academics with an interest in gender studies and human rights.

Midnight Blue evolved from Hong Kong’s Zi Teng sex worker network after the need for a project focusing exclusively on HIV/AIDS was identified by the male and trans* sex worker communities. Learning from the successes and lessons of the Zi Teng’s initial male and trans* sex worker project, Midnight Blue was officially registered as an independent organisation in 2005.

Press clipping from a local newspaper with photo and text on the Midnight Blue demonstration.
Local press cover a Midnight Blue demonstration outside a police station

Initially concerned with the rising rates of HIV/AIDS in the male and trans* sex worker communities, Midnight Blue’s first project involved contacting as many male and trans* sex workers as possible to discuss the community’s rising HIV epidemic and to offer peer support in accessing VCT.

In their initial outreach efforts, Midnight Blue noted that intersectional issues were impacting on the community’s attitude toward safer sex. These issues, included: stigma and discrimination, advice on legal issues, harassment and homophobia from both police and the broader public, human rights issues, and access to confidential and non-judgemental STI and/or HIV testing and treatment.  Midnight Blue began to advocate for these issues in a range of civil society forums.

Peer staff also began offering care and support around the impact of stigma, discrimination and State policy on highly marginalised sex workers’ sense of self worth and desire to meaningfully participate in society.

Policies directly impacting on male and trans* sex workers include immigration protocols. In Hong Kong and several Chinese ports (Guangzhou, Macau, Lokmazhou and Zhuha), travellers are expected to provide certificates identifying their HIV sero-status at “enquiry counters” or undertake an HIV test within a state-run testing centre. Similarly, national and multinational companies require new employees to undertake a HIV test as a standardised “general health check-up.”

Midnight Blue protestors hold banners and placards outside a police station
Midnight Blue members and supporters protest stigma, discrimination and human rights violations

In addition to undertaking sensitivity workshops, facilitating training courses in self-protection and work related rights, Midnight Blue operates a drop-in space in which male and trans* sex workers can explore sex work related occupational health and safety issues, including strategies for avoiding police raids.