An international petition containing 75,000 signatures from 30 countries is calling upon the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies to apologize to two lesbian students.
“I call on you [the university] to apologize publicly to the two students and their families and to take comprehensive measures to prevent discrimination and homophobic harassment on campus,” read the petition organized by LGBT group, All Out.
The outcry comes after one of the women, named Ouyang, said the university initially refused to grant the couple their diplomas following their public marriage proposal on June 21, the day of their graduation.
Although this is a popular tradition among straight Chinese university students, the university did not look fondly upon the gay couple following suit. “After photos of our proposal went viral, party officials at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies threatened to withhold my diploma, saying we should ‘keep our homosexuality to ourselves and not pester others.'”
Ouyang said she was told the couple would not receive their diplomas as punishment for having “violated certain regulations” as a result of their public engagement. Photographs of the engagement posted online were removed.
Meanwhile, Wang said the university outed her to her parents and had police break into her apartment to collect personal notes between the two as “evidence”.
Wang and Ouyang finally received their diplomas on June 28, but have yet to receive an apology from the university.
Homosexual students face other barriers at Chinese universities. Tongai, an LGBT rights organization based in Changsha, said LGBT societies are routinely restricted by Chinese universities. “Without the recognition of universities, the campus groups are illegal, and their activities can be easily restricted,” said Iang Xiaohan, the group’s leader.