Homosexuality can be qualified as a mental disorder, according to the rules of Chinese courts; The disappointed LGBT community
A Chinese court upheld a ruling that a textbook description of homosexuality as “a psychological disorder” was not a factual error but simply an “academic point of view.”
The Chinese LGBT community and the 24-year-old woman who filed the complaint expressed disappointment at the ruling last week by the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court in eastern Jiangsu Province.
Ou Jiayong, who also uses the name Xixi, said the court’s ruling on what constituted a “factual error” was “random and unfounded.”
In 2016, during her first year of study at South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Xixi came across a psychology textbook describing homosexuality as a mental disorder.
The 2013 edition of Mental health education for college students, published by Jinan University Press, classified homosexuality as “common psychosexual disorders” – as well as cross-dressing and fetishism. He said that homosexuality “was seen as a disturbance of love and sex or a perversion of the sexual partner.”
The textbook is used by a number of Chinese universities, and Xixi was concerned that it perpetuated the belief that being gay was wrong.
In 2017, Xixi sued the editor of the manual and the online retailer JD.com who stores it, demanding that he remove the reference and publicly apologize. She said the book was “shoddy work” because the claim was false, with no scientific basis to back it up.
At the end of last year, the Suyu District People’s Court in Suqian ruled in favor of the publishing house, saying that the opposing views of Xixi and the publisher were due to differences between opinion rather than a factual error.
In November, Xixi, now a social worker in Hong Kong, appealed the ruling, but that was not enough to sway the appeals court, which last week issued its decision upholding the previous judgment.
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The editor of the manual apparently used views that do not match society’s perception of sexual minorities today.
Ah Qiang, spokesperson for the Guangzhou-based FLAG support group
She said she believed the evidence she provided was sufficient to prove that the description of homosexuality as a mental disorder was false.
âMaybe this move is aimed at reducing controversy,â she said. “But it also allowed textbooks that pathologize homosexuality to continue to circulate, which is a shame.”
Xixi’s trial has drawn a wave of support from the Chinese LGBT community, which has publicly expressed disappointment with the outcome of the case.
Ah Qiang, spokesperson for the Guangzhou-based non-governmental organization PFLAG, a local peer support group for families and friends in the queer community, compared the description of homosexuality in textbooks to people believing that the sun revolved around the earth in its inaccuracy.
âThe editor of the manual apparently used views that don’t match society’s perception of sexual minorities today,â said Ah Qiang.
China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and it was removed from a list of mental illnesses in 2001. But homosexuals who âdisagree with themselvesâ or who feel anxious or depressed because of their sexuality are still listed in the official Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders.
The World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.
Xixi said that even though she had exhausted all available legal avenues to overturn the decision, there was still a lot of work to be done and a long way to go to remedy the situation.
âMy lawyer and I will have public sharing sessions, write notes with other members of the community and see if there is anything else we can follow up,â she said.
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