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China’s ministry of education sued over textbooks that ‘stigmatize’ gays

China’s ministry of education sued over textbooks that ‘stigmatize’ gays

A Beijing court on Friday (15 August) accepted a lawsuit against China’s Ministry of Education over textbooks that classify homosexuality as a ‘psychological disorder’ – even though it was removed from the country’s official list of mental illnesses in 2001.

The suit was filled by a 20-year-old Qiu Bai – a student at a university in Guangdong province – after she found many psychology and medical textbooks in her school library that defined homosexuality as a sexual deviation.

One 2013 textbook listed homosexuality as a psychological disorder alongside pedophilia, zoophilia and necrophilia. It also suggested ways the ‘illness’ could be cured, such as ‘aversion therapy’ – which can include electric shock therapy.

Qiu said the teaching materials openly ‘stigmatized’ gay people and had ‘no doubt’ directly harmed the LGBTI community.

‘When I was experiencing an identity crisis, I tried to seek help by consulting these textbooks. But the wrong information has hurt me as well as other students like me,’ she told the Global Times.

Qiu said that she had complained to the local education bureau and the country’s media watchdog, but failed to get a response.

The Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 2001. However, a 2014 survey of psychology textbooks conducted by the Gay and Lesbian Campus Association in China found that 40% of those written after 2001 still classified homosexuality as a mental disorder.