Homosexuality can still be classified as a mental disorder in China, court finds

A court in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province has ruled in favor of a publisher who described homosexuality as a “psychological disorder” in a university textbook.

The Suyu District Intermediate Court in Suqian City said the depiction of homosexuality in “common psychosexual disorders” – as well as cross-dressing and fetishism – resulted from “differences in perception” and was not not a factual error, according to documents seen by Reuters.

The ruling upheld an earlier judgment handed down in September last year against plaintiff Ou Jiayong, also known by the pseudonym Xixi.

Xixi, 24, first encountered the psychology textbook while studying at South China Agricultural University in 2016. She told the New York Times that she was “deeply stung” when she read the manual because she identifies as a lesbian.

Xixi sued the manual’s publisher and the online retailer that stores it in 2017, demanding that the texts remove the reference and publicly apologize.

But his legal battle was ultimately unsuccessful. Xixi told the South China Morning Post that the court’s decision on what constituted a “factual error” was “random and without merit”. She thought the evidence she had given in court was enough to prove the portrayal of homosexuality as a mental disorder was wrong, but said the ruling could be a way to “reduce controversy”.

“But this [the ruling] also allowed textbooks that pathologized homosexuality to continue circulating, which is a shame,” Xixi said.

A college textbook also said homosexuality was a ‘perversion’

the South China Morning Post says the manual – a 2013 edition of Mental Health Education for College Students published by Jinan University Press – is used by “a number of Chinese universities”.

He also states that homosexuality is “considered a disturbance of love and sex or a perversion of the sexual partner”.

The Suyu District People’s Court in Suqian said the opposing views of Xixi and the editor were due to differences of opinion rather than factual error.

Xixi appealed the decision in November 2020, but the appeals court upheld the original decision in favor of the publisher.

She said Reuters she only learned of the judgment on her appeal from her lawyer, and she is “really disappointed because we see comments that go in the direction of this judgment”.

Peng Yanzi, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, also said Reuters the decision is “pretty detrimental to the whole LGBT community”. He added, “I’m not the only one who is disappointed, shocked and angry – the whole LGBT community is – but we also greatly admire Xixi because she spent years legally pursuing this.”

Homosexuality is legal in China, but anti-LGBT+ sentiments remain

According to EqualDex, homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997 and downgraded as a mental disorder in 2001. However, the country still does not recognize same-sex marriage and there is no legal protection against discrimination against LGBT+ people. in China.

In 2015, a student sued China’s Ministry of Education over textbooks depicting homosexuality as an affliction, arguing that the government was responsible for ensuring the quality of the books and should disclose its approval process. She lost her legal battle two years later.

In 2014, a Chinese court ordered a clinic to compensate a man who had undergone electroconvulsive therapy intended to “cure” homosexuality, claiming the clinic had committed consumer fraud.

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