homophobic textbooks

Woman Takes Her Fight Over Homophobic Textbooks in China to Court

Third attempt at suing government not going well

After three attempts, a lesbian university student has finally gotten a Chinese court to hear her complaints that textbooks authorized by the Ministry of Education discriminate against homosexuality by describing it as a “psychological disorder”.

Qiu Bai (a pseudonym), a student at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, finally got her day in court yesterday at the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court. Qiu had been persuaded to drop her first lawsuit by ministry officials, but when promised changes didn’t work out, Qiu’s second lawsuit was thrown out by a local court.

“The Ministry of Education has failed to reply to my request for an administrative review of the textbooks’ content. If I can win before the jury, the MOE may [be forced to] have the misleading textbooks revised,” said Qiu.

homophobic textbooks

Qiu’s lawsuit accuses the Ministry of Education of homophobia by issuing university textbooks that say homosexuality is an “abnormal sexual mental disorder”.

As the BBC News reports, methods used to “treat” homosexuality include the following, as published in “Consulting Psychology” by Guangdong Higher Education Press:

1. Platonic love relationship: Find an “elegant and caring” member of the opposite sex. Establish a relationship as friends initially. Then hope it becomes something else.

2. Repulsion therapy: Induce nausea with forced vomiting or fear of electrocution when thoughts of having a lover of the same sex emerge.

3. Shock therapy: Cause major shock to your lifestyle by moving to an entirely new environment in order to sever connection with previous friends, etc.

4. Sexual orientation transfer: When you are aroused, practise channelling that feeling towards somebody of the opposite sex using pictures and audio recordings.

Holding a sign that read “The education minister must revise these textbooks”, Qiu explained her motives for taking the government to court.

“By suing the MOE, I want to raise public awareness of the plight of LGBT communities in China,” she said. “Textbooks are a primary and reliable resource for LGBT people to understand their identities; such misleading information in textbooks needs to be revised.”

However, despite her efforts, Qiu isn’t optimistic about the result. “I feel a bit disappointed today,” she said. “I took a long journey from Guangzhou to get here hoping they could solve this problem quickly but the result is disappointing. It’s been a year. It’s the same judge and the same defendants and we’ve made no progress at all.

“The ministry of education needs to state publicly its point of view on how to present homosexuality. It needs to at least respond to my petition about these textbook errors and ask publishers to check if they have made similar errors. What I’m asking them to do is very specific.”

China officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 2002. Despite becoming decriminalized, homosexuals and lesbians are still fighting for recognition and acceptance.

In April of this year, a Chinese court rejected a case by a Chinese man suing for the right to marry his same-sex partner. The court explained it refused to hear the case because Chinese law specifically defines marriage as being between “a man and a woman”.

Meanwhile, two lesbian students at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies complained that their diplomas were withheld after they performed a graduation marriage proposal in public this past August. In June, a Henan man complained he was forced to undergo “conversion therapy” against his will for 19 days after his family discovered he was a homosexual. Back in March, state censors banned homosexual relationships from TV and internet broadcasts for belonging to “uncommon sexual relationships and sexual behaviors”.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor