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Chinese activist suing Hunan provincial department over refusal to register gay rights group

Chinese LGBTI rights activist Xiang Xiaohan is suing Hunan Province’s Department of Civil Affairs for discrimination after it refused to allow him to register a gay rights advocacy group because it said homosexuality was against Chinese social norms
A retail district in Changsha, Hunan Province
Photo by Zhou Xi zhou

Chinese LGBTI rights activist Xiang Xiaohan filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Department of Civil Affairs of Hunan Province after an official sent him a homophobic response in denying his request to register a gay advocacy group.

Xiang claims the email he was sent by the department stated, ‘there is no legal foundation for establishing a homosexual organization,’ and that homosexuality was ‘against China's traditional culture and morality.’

‘According to the Marriage Law, marriage must include one man and one woman, so the law does not approve of homosexual marriages or relationships,' the email also read.

Xiang, 20, wants the Department of Civil Affairs to apologize to him in writing for what he believes is its defamation of him as a gay man.

‘I hope we can be respected, I hope society can understand us,’ Xiang told the Global Times.

The local court has a week to decide whether to hear the case or not.

Executive director of the Nanjing-based NGO Justice for All, Yu Fangqiang, told the Global Times that the department’s reply was illogical.

‘Although the law forbids gay marriage, this has no relationship to whether a gay NGO is allowed to be registered,’ Yu said.

Xiang was arrested and detained for 12 days for organizing a parade without permission in Changsha in May last year.

It is estimated that China is home to 30 million LGBTI people.

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