Officials in China have cancelled part of Shanghai Pride.

Venue owners were reportedly threatened with “severe consequences” if a planned play and a film screening went ahead. The play was to be The Laramie Project, which deals with the murder of gay teenager Matthew Shepard.

The move has caused confusion, as the state-run media described the gay event as having “profound significance” on the same day. Shanghai Pride began last weekend.

The official line is that the events were cancelled because the venues did not have the correct licences. However, calls to the authorities on the subject have not been answered.

Hannah Miller, the chief organiser of the festival, told Shanghai Daily: “They are all activities we have hosted before, and we never had problems. This time we just put the events together in a week and gave it the name of a festival.”

She would not comment on the possibility of more events being cancelled.

This is the first time China has officially had a Pride festival. However, there will not be a parade as there is with most other Pride events. Organisers decided it was likely to upset authorities.

Homosexuality was illegal in China until 1997. Until 2001, it was officially listed as a mental illness.