Qiu Bai (a pseudonym to protect her identity) is suing the Chinese Ministry of Education for allowing university books to discriminate against homosexuality.
The 21-year-old lesbian student has said she is infuriated to see blatant homophobia printed in textbooks that are accessible in her university’s library.
“Textbooks should at least describe homosexuality with objectivity,” she told Sixth Tone.
Homosexuality has been decriminalised in China since 1997 and has been removed from the official mental disorders list since 2001, but Bai found textbooks at her university referring to homosexuality as a psychological disorder.
Bai's fight has been going on for years, as she first discovered these textbooks in 2014 while looking for information about sexuality, finding the term “homosexuality” described as a “disorder”.
The description was written in a publication called Consulting Psychology and was published by Guangdong Higher Education Press in 2013, according to Sixth Tone. The description appeared in a further two textbooks.
In March 2015 Bai raised the problem with many authorities, including the Department of Education. She was ignored, and her attempts to sue the publishers were thrown out of local courts. In August 2015 she sued the Ministry of Education, but was convinced to withdraw the case when she was told she could pursue it through the Ministry’s complaint system. She received no response from the Ministry.
After a second lawsuit was rejected in April this year, Bai found success on June 3, filing a lawsuit requesting the Ministry of Education withdraw all textbooks with derogatory LGBT+ descriptions. She has also requested the ministry make a statement on the issue about the fact that textbooks referring to homosexuality as a disorder can easily be found in university libraries.
This is the second lawsuit standing up for LGBTQIA+ rights in China this week after a 37-year-old man took out a lawsuit against a hospital for forcibly admitting him to under-go “conversion therapy” for a “sexual preference disorder.”
For 19 days, Yu says he was strapped to a bed and force-fed drugs with nurses beating him according to Time.
Research from Outright International says that since homosexuality was decriminalised and removed as a mental disorder, "the government seems to have maintained an official silence and general restrictions on the LGBT community based on a cautious, conservative policy.”