The Acceptance of Homosexuality in China and its Future

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21 years ago, in 1997, the Chinese government abolished the hooligan law, which in transferred meaning was decriminalization of homosexuality or same-sex love, in Chinese , in People’s Republic of China. Just a few years later after the first step in modern progression, the Chinese Society of Psychiatry in 2001 declassified homosexuality as a mental health issue. Even though, homosexuality is not treated as a mental disorder and is not anymore punished by law. LGBT community does not have the same rights equal to the heterosexuals. Moreover, same-sex couples cannot get insurance, health care, pension, own a home or adopt a child. According to Peking University Sociology Department who held the largest survey yet in 2016, fewer than 15% of homosexuals said they had “come out” to their families and more than a 50% said that after the “coming out” to their families, they found themselves to be discriminated as a result. Moreover, we need to bear in mind that China is still being led by a communist party. Even nowadays, in some more rural part of China people believe that homosexuality can be cured and that it is just some act of “trendiness”. To better understand why is being gay, in Chinese , still an issue in China we have to briefly get over the Chinese history.

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Documentation of homosexuality in China reaches up to the ancient history. According to Hinsch (1990) study, homosexuality was regarded as a normal condition even before the arrival of influence from the western countries. It is also said that several Chinese emperors had homosexual companions along the heterosexual relationships; there are three tales to be found. If we have a closer look to one of these, there is no wonder that the original designation for homosexuals was  in Chinese or the passion of the cut sleeve in English. The name comes from the story of the Chinese Emperor Ai of Han (27 BC15 August 1 BC), who was once resting with his male-lover. Nevertheless, when he woke up, he found his sleeve under the head of his sleeping lover. As he did not want to awake him, he cut his sleeve off the robe instead. Later on, in 1949 with the emergence of the Communist party in China, homosexual sex was forbidden and criminalized, not as a homosexual intercourse but as a hooligan’s offence. Something like the term homosexuality was simply erased from the people’s minds. The word ignorance could stand as a perfect description of the acceptance of homosexuality in today’s China. The ignorance could be considered to be the main issue nowadays or within the elder generation, to equalize the homosexual rights or at least accept gay people within the wider spectrum of people. Another huge determinant, which influences the equalization, is the traditional way of living and worshipping the family. Traditions have the biggest impact on people in a closet.

Almost every action of a person is done within the expectations of their parents, families and friends not to harm the reputation within their community. It is no secret that traditional Chinese family is defined by a marriage, which is still described as a union (bond) between a man and a woman. There is one Chinese proverb said by Mencius or Meng Ke, who was Chinese philosopher and sage (4th century BC), which says There are three (many) ways to be unfilial, having no sons is the worst (the worst is not to produce an offspring). Translated from the original. The act of filial piety [1] could be described in many ways, although the most accurate would be that most dishonest to your parents is not to ensure a male heir. By a research from Qingdao University in China from 2012, around 90% of 20 million homosexual men are getting married to a woman just to satisfy their families. LGBT community in China are increasingly getting married in the “sham” marriage while at the same time are dating same-sex partner. Ai Qiang, an activist who leads China’s PFLAG [2] group says: By pretending to be straight and enjoying the social benefits, they are abandoning other LGBT people to face the pressure alone. Ai Qiang also argues that homophobia across the China is caused by the ignorance and the public not knowing any openly gay people in their environment.

Living in personal bubbles is not just a problem in China; it is a huge problem all around the planet, it creates disillusions and the user of the data, is surrounded just by the facts with which he/she agrees. Despite the considerable progress, the big uproar came from the society in April 2018, when Sina Weibo[3] targeted and banned the homosexual content out of its site under the same circumstances as content violent or pornographic. The ban was shortly after cancelled due to move of users who shared almost half a million posts using hashtag #IAmGay or in Chinese  as a part of an online protest. Overall, it seems that China is struggling in progressing, because of its diversity. It is a huge country with a lot of diverse customs, traditions and a big spectrum of people. It means that even though, the major cities as Beijing or Shanghai could be mentally prepared to progress in some cases, more rural areas still do not have any knowledge about the LGBT community and are scared fighting against them with the knowledge, about spreadable diseases, which was presented to them in older days. We must admit that the acceptance of the homosexuals depends on one and each acceptance, knowledge and empathy. Even these days may be for some hard to “come out” but as the young educated people have clearer minds and see the problems, the movement is getting some progress and the spirit of traditional China is slowly changing. The overall equalization of the LGBT rights in China will not happen in a few months or years, but with its better understanding against those in a LGBT community the country will keep on moving forward.

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