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INCREASING ACCEPTANCE OF HOMOSEXUALITY IN CHINA

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Source: Seth Faison, "Tolerance Grows for Homosexuals in China," The New York Times, New York, NY, 1997-SEP-2

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Chinese society and government are making the first struggling steps towards acceptance of homosexuality.

Until a few years ago, gays and lesbians in Communist China remained deeply in the closet. The government considered homosexuality to be a social disgrace or a form of mental illness. The police regularly rounded up gays and lesbians. Since there was no law against homosexuality, gays and lesbians were charged with hooliganism or disturbing the public order.

Most still keep their orientation secret from families and coworkers because of heavy discrimination within Chinese society. The Chinese Psychiatric Association still classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder; most professional therapists regard sexual orientation as a curable illness. Sometimes, shock treatments are used in a futile attempt to convert gays and lesbians to heterosexuality.

A lesbian couple was arrested in Anhui province in 1992, but were released after the Ministry of Public Security decided that they could not be prosecuted for living together.

Police suppression is less in the large cities. A gay bar has opened up in Shanghai. An AIDS hot line was allowed to be opened in 1992 in Beijing. It was closed in 1993 by the government because the organizer had begun agitating for gay rights.

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