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Nearly 50% of Chinese gay men and lesbians are in the closet at work, survey shows

Nearly 50% of Chinese gay men and lesbians are in the closet at work, survey shows

The first survey on homophobia in the workplace in China has found that only 6% of gay men and lesbians questioned are fully out at work.

The survey of 2,161 respondents found that 47.62% are fully in the closet at work and around 46% are out to some of their colleagues.

Over 50% had heard offensive words used about LGBT people, over 30% have heard or suffered personal attacks about sexual orientation and over 20% have resigned or considered resigning because of a hostile work environment.

The report, from Aibai LGBT rights group, also found: 

  • respondents who work for state-owned enterprises are less comfortable with being open at work than those who work for privately owned or multinational companies
  • more highly educated respondents were reluctant to come out because they were worried it would negatively impact their career 
  • lesbians are more likely to be out at work than gay men
  • bisexuals are more likely to be in the closet than lesbians or gay men
  • the percentage of respondents who are out at work is similar in big cities and small and medium towns – but in the big cities people are more concerned about their career and in smaller towns people are more concerned about their families finding out. 

The report was released at an IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) event on Friday (17 May) where Zhou Haibin from the International Labor Organization Beijing’s office talked about the benefits of an inclusive working environment.

Since 2011 Aibai has run a forum on workplace diversity with multinational corporations to improve the working lives of LGBT people in China. At this year’s event in Beijing in September more Chinese companies will be involved.

Last year a survey from Aibai showed that 77% of respondents had experienced homophobic bullying at school.