Last edited: June 12, 2004

China’s Landmark Decision on Homosexuality

Greenwich Village Gazette, October 15, 1999
New York, NY

By Jack Nichols

Attention gay businessmen of all nations! Beware of now-legal mainland Chinese traps.

In what the South China Morning Post (October 13) has called "a landmark decision," Zhang Lihua, a thirty-something female judge of the Xuanwu District Court, has decided that homosexuality is abnormal and thus characterized same-sex love as unacceptable behavior among China’s citizens.

"It is the first time a mainland court has ruled on the nature of homosexuality," writes Mark O’Neill, a Beijing-based reporter. Prior to this ruling, he explains, anti-gay prejudices, while existing, have never before been ensconced as legally permissible.

In a cruel reversal of pending Hate Crime legislation in the United States Congress, therefore, the Chinese Court has institutionalized anti-gay sentiments, placing the full authority of Chinese courts against same-sex love and affection. The Court’s target is the author of a book which, by its very title, could be considered by party conservatives as damaging to the reputation of the nation.

Fang Gang, 31, author of Homosexuals in China (released April, 1995) and his publisher, Jilin Peoples Publishing House were defendants in this "literary-slander of-the-unnamed" case.

The author said: "I feel the judgment is unfair. It is for doctors, not judges, to say if homosexuality is abnormal."

The suit’s initiator, who was an un-named character in Homosexuals in China, but who is now identified as Mr. Xu, sued Fang Gang and his publisher for 60,000 yuan (HK$55,000) charging he’d suffered Chinese-style anti-gay prejudice, a consequence of the "slanderous’ book in which he was not named.

Homosexuals in China, since publication, has sold 70,000 copies in this populous nation. Mr. Xu (un-named in the book) is described in its pages as the manager of a dance hall in which a gay Valentines Day party is held with approximately 50 persons attending. The book indicates that the dance hall manager is a homosexual and explains that he’d also volunteered as a gay telephone hotline operator.

Mr. Xu’s presentation to the court blamed the book for making him subject to what he called suspicion and criticism by acquaintances and family members. His fiancÚ spurned him, he lamented, and he, although unnamed, has now reportedly found himself an outcast in society.

What’s more, the former unnamed dance hall operator has not since publication, he alleged, been able to find a job.

Judge Zhang Lihua found in favor of Mr. Xu, awarding him 9,000 yuan damages, 7,000 to be paid by the book’s author and 2,000 by his publishing house. The award was to compensate Mr. Xu following his having been alluded to in Homosexuals in China, for those undoubted psychological damages and job losses he claimed he’d endured.

China watchers scoffed at this latest attempt by established authorities to regulate private behavior.

Some fear that Chinese officialdom is, through this decision, making a concerted attempt to quash the growth of gay grapevines in China over which they can have no Big Brother style-jurisdiction.

Communist Party stalwarts, they note, want underlings on hand to be seen and heard at all times. Currently the government is persecuting the mostly invisible members of an outlawed exercise-prone religious revival, although it is popular, peaceful, quiet and non-political.

People everywhere, says critic Steve Yates, must never forget the official Chinese government’s reaction to China’s peaceful democratic counterculture movement of 1989. While citizens of other lands helplessly watched on TV, the Chinese government consciously marched on and mowed-down thousands of its own idealistic, non-violent 60s style youth. "It was Kent State very much magnified and as much or more cold blooded," notes Yates, referring to 1970 Ohio campus shootings by U.S. military guards and their killings of several unarmed college students.

"The court’s decision, so blatantly sympathetic to the plight of Mr. Xu could signal the state’s resolve to set the stage in McCarthyite fashion to persecute and prosecute accused homosexuals at will," cautioned Yates.

The court decision says:

"Homosexuality in China today is considered as abnormal sexual behavior and is not acceptable to the public."

"Therefore, by describing the plaintiff as a homosexual without any proof, Fang Gang brought depression and psychological pain to him [Mr Xu] and affected his life and work, infringing his reputation."

This Xuanwu District Court verdict was delivered September 30. Fang, whose lawyer remains supportive, has suggested that he’s given thought to an appeal of the judge’s decision before the weekend.

Jack Nichols is Senior Editor at GayToday, a popular online newsmagazine:

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