A labor arbitration committee in Qingdao, China will hear an unfair dismissal case brought by a kindergarten teacher who claims he was fired for being gay.
The school allegedly fired the teacher, known as Ming Yue, after parents of students at his previous school alerted his current employer.
‘First, the dismissal is unfair, unjust and illegal’ he told Gay Star News. ‘Second, I want to tell the parents who discriminate against sexual minorities that their children need to see the world as it really is’ he said.
‘I teach children to be equal, free, fraternal, and respectful, and I don’t want this to happen again’.
He brought the case to Qingdao’s labor arbitration on Thursday (27 September). They agreed to begin the trial on November 13.
Ming posed with a sign reading: ‘I teach my kids to be honest, so I cannot lie. I am gay’.
Ming has been working in education for more than a decade. He also campaigns for LGBTI rights in China.
Being LGBTI at work in China
China decriminalized gay sex in 1997. It declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001.
But, the country is socially conservative and places a large emphasis on the traditional nuclear family. Many LGBTI Chinese are not out at home or at work.
There is currently no legislation to protect LGBTI people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
A UN report released earlier this year found 10 percent of LGBTI people in China believed they were denied a job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Furthermore, more than two-thirds of people had seen advertisements that excluded their sexuality or gender identity.
In 2014, a homosexual man in Guiyang province took his employer to court because he believed he was fired due to his sexuality. He lost the case.
In 2016, a transgender man won a case of unlawful dismissal against his employer. The Judge ruled that people should not be discriminated against based on sexuality, gender, nationality, or religion.
‘The right to work’
Importantly, Ming and his lawyers will argue that the kindergarten contravened Chinese law. It that states ‘Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right and obligation to work’.
Winning the case could help bridge the gap in anti-discrimination legislation in China.
‘This case is a labor dispute, and all laws and regulations concerning the protection of labor rights and interests can be applied’ Ming’s lawyers told Gay Star News.
They will push the kindergarten to reinstate Ming and offer compensation.
Ming said he firmly believed he will win the case. ‘I want to get a formal and sincere apology and look forward to continuing my career in preschool education without any discrimination,’ he said.
Yanzi Pang, director of LGBTI Rights Advocacy China, praised Ming’s bravery.
‘Many LGBTI people experience discrimination in the workplace, more people should stand up with the legal process’.
The group said it hoped Ming’s case would show the population that LGBTI people are just like everyone else. ‘They are not monsters, and they are just plain people work in different fields’.