A brief reflection on LGBT rights in China on May 17 – China latest society and culture news

Society & Culture

A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture May 17, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Belt and Road protests, plus online healthcare rules."

Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, which aims to raise awareness of LGBT rights worldwide. Although not illegal in China, homosexuality is still stigmatized there. Only about 5 percent of the country’s LGBT population are open about their sexuality at school or at work, with 17 percent open to their families, according to a 2016 survey under the UN Development Programme. In addition, the societal and family pressure to get married to the opposite sex remains high in China; a report in 2011 cited that about 80 percent of Chinese gay men — in a total gay male population of approximately 20,000,000 in that year — married women. The issue reflects the need to create an equal and supportive space for an LGBT group in China.

Progress has been made in the push for LGBT rights in China. In 1997, it was decreed that gay people in China could no longer be prosecuted under the ambiguous crime of “hooliganism.” In 2001, homosexuality was removed from the nation’s classification of mental disorders. Increasingly, support from a growing number of LGBT activists and groups has helped the gay rights movement in China emerge from being underground. In 2014, a court in Beijing ruled against therapy to “correct” homosexuality.

But despite all the achievements in recognizing LGBT rights, China still has a long way to go to protect them. Same-sex marriage is illegal in China and many other Asian countries. Sixty-one percent of Chinese said they believe homosexuality is unacceptable, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. In March 2015, five feminist activists with ties to the LGBT community were detained for 37 days for planning protests as part of an anti-sexual harassment campaign.

On Weibo, many netizens have expressed their support for LGBT rights. One commenter said, “No matter if it’s a man or a woman, you should chase your love. In this world, there’s not just one love between a man and a woman. Love should be respected regardless. Same-sex love will still be difficult in the future. I believe you can overcome those obstacles by staying united.”