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Homosexuality may be considered “a psychological disorder” in the eyes of Chinese law.
Citing controversial academic literature, a court in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu ruled that a textbook defining queerness as a disorder is not “factual error,” but a divergent “academic view,” the South China Morning Post reported. The ruling, from the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court, upholds a lower court’s ruling.
China’s LGBTQ community has criticized the decision. Ou Jiayong, 24, who filed the lawsuit as a college student in 2017 to get the textbook’s publisher to pull its “poor-quality work” from circulation, called the ruling “random and baseless.”
Ah Qiang, a spokesperson for PFLAG, a support group for the queer Chinese community and their families, accused the textbook’s editors and the courts of being out of touch with contemporary culture.
“The editor of the textbook apparently used viewpoints that do not match society’s perception of sexual minorities today,” said Ah in a statement.
Officially, homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, and ceased classification as a mental illness in 2001 — with the exception of homosexuals who are particularly tormented by their sexuality, according to the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders.
Now a social worker, Ou, who prefers the moniker Xixi, discovered the questionable text in a 2013 edition of “Mental Health Education for College Students” (Jinan University Press) during her first year at South China Agricultural University in 2016. The book described homosexuality among “common psychosexual disorders,” and stated same-sex relationships are “believed to be a disruption of love and sex or perversion of the sex partner.”
Xixi sued the book’s publisher and retailer JD.com, demanding the company remove the reference and publicly apologize for the homophobic content, which has been disseminated throughout universities in China.
The first court ruling argued that the advocate’s case also lacked scholarly support, according to SCMP, calling the matter a difference of opinion.
In November, Xixi filed the appeal that just ruled against her. She disagrees that her evidence was lacking, and plans to continue her fight.
“Maybe this ruling is to reduce controversy,” she said. “But it has also allowed textbooks that pathologize homosexuality to continue circulating, which is a pity.”
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