Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

All may not be right in China, but ...

... the fact that such an article can be published in Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency website, at all is pretty revolutionary. Things may be difficult for gays in China, as they are in many other countries when you scrape just a little under the surface of seeming 'tolerance', but there does now seem to be a genuine attempt at least to discuss the matter rationally in China.

If you take the trouble to scroll to the fourth page of the Xinhua article you will find this very interesting observation at the end by Wang Xiaobo, wife of the late Li Yinhe (referred to as "China's top expert on homosexuality"):

"Any sexual relationship that is long-term, stable and built on love should be respected. Gays should take a positive attitude towards life."

Even if this enlightened attitude is not universal in China (or, I expect, anything like it), the same is true of many western countries - one only has to know of some of the legislation passed, or being discussed, in the US recently to understand this.

The Xinhua article is reprinted from China Daily, reporting on a government report published last November and part of this report (on page two of the article) states:

Last November, government agencies published a report that put the number of gay men in China who are "of a sexually active age" at 5-10 million. Scientists say this is the low end of the estimate. They figure that there are around 30-40 million homosexual men and women in total.

In 1997, China's Criminal Law decriminalized sodomy. In 2001, homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders by health authorities.

But the changing law does not necessarily change public perception. Most gay people interviewed for this story agree that the single biggest source of pressure and stigma comes from their own families. "My employer doesn't care about my private life, and the neighbourhood grandma is not nosy any more. But there's no way I can get past my own mum and dad," said Lu Youni, a Guangzhou high school teacher.

Most parents cannot imagine in their wildest dreams that their children could be gay. They usually do not pick up the subtle signals that hint that their kids may be attracted to those of their own sex. When revelation dawns, it is normally such a shock that it feels like falling into a vortex of tongue-tied humiliation.

- there is a lot more in this article that is extremely interesting. The fact that it all comes from a Chinese government report is, to me, pretty stunning.

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