What is it like to be gay in China?
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Being LGBTQ in China is complicated. In many ways, Chinese society at large represses the culture – coming out can lead to severe professional and personal consequences. And yet, gay communities are allowed to exist openly in many places without repercussions. China is a place where authorities routinely censor homosexual acts in movies and television, but it is also home to the world’s largest gay dating app. Social and political forces continue to shape the development of LGBTQ rights in the world’s most populous country. With rising LGBTQ acceptance am
A teacher came out as gay in China, and paid a price
It took years – and a move to New Zealand – before Cui Le felt ready to tell his story. Cui was working as a linguistics lecturer at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou when he publicly identified as gay in 2015. In August of that year a student named Qiubai, at Sun Yat-sen University, sued the Chinese education ministry over textbooks that described homosexuality as a “disease.” The school counselor informed Qiubai’s parents of her sexuality and they, in turn, took her to the hospital for an examination. Cui, along with the rest of the country’s LGBT community, was outraged. Until that moment he had remained silent, fearful that being g
Chinese transgender woman sues ex-employer in landmark case
A transgender woman in China is suing her former employer in a landmark case that many hope will uphold equal employment rights for sexual minorities. Earlier this year, shortly after the woman, surnamed Yang, returned to work at a media company from gender-reassignment surgery, she was advised to quit. She didn’t. Within a month, she was fired.  The woman is suing in the eastern city of Hangzhou under a new legal provision added to Chinese law in December 2018 mandating equal employment rights. Yang is seeking a public apology and modest compensation.  The employer said the woman was fired due to lateness. Legal experts say Yang’s case, which was heard in court last week, has blazed a trai
Taiwan holds first pride parade after legalizing gay marriage
Hundreds of thousands of people in Taipei took to the streets over the weekend to support gay rights in the first pride parade in Taiwan since it became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex unions. Crowds of people waved rainbow flags and rode on flamboyant floats from City Hall for the 3.5 mile walk, whose theme this year was: “Together, make Taiwan better.”
Hong Kong court calls for review of city’s biased same-sex laws
Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal has called for a “proper and effective” review of all laws and policies that discriminate against same-sex relationships in the city. The court’s call emerged after three judges unanimously agreed to reduce the jail term of a sex offender who complained he had been given a manifestly excessive sentence for consensual “buggery” with a minor because he was gay. Yeung Ho-nam, 28, was immediately released after the judges replaced his original jail term of 2.5 years with a sentence of 10 months, which he had completed. Yeung pleaded guilty last September to two counts of unlawful homosexual buggery with a person under the age of 16, admitting that he twice had consens
Transgender choir seeks acceptance in China
A choir with transgender singers from across China joined hands to perform at an LGBT festival in Sichuan in August. They hope to spread awareness and gain acceptance in a nation where being transgender is still considered a mental disorder.
Gay Chinese go on a cruise, parents in tow
In mid-June, more than 1,000 members of China's LGBT community and their friends and families embarked on a five-day holiday cruise making a round trip from China’s southern city of Shenzhen to Vietnam. Organized under the slogan “Be Yourself,” the cruise was described as a trip “without closets.” On board, passengers were able to take part in workshops and sharing sessions meant to help gay and lesbian people better connect with parents who often struggle to accept their children’s sexual orientation. We had previously published a diary by a lesbian holidaymaker on the cruise. Now, we bring you a film featuring one of the gay tourists and his mother.
Married gay couples in Hong Kong now equal in the eyes of the taxman
Hong Kong’s tax authority will now treat married gay couples the same as married opposite-sex couples. The rule change by the Inland Revenue Department came one month after a major legal victory for the LGBT community over spousal rights. In a written reply to an inquiry by the South China Morning Post, a spokeswoman for the department said same-sex married couples could now submit joint tax assessments, giving them access to tax benefits previously available only to married straight couples. In a landmark decision in June, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled in favor of senior immigration officer Angus Leung Chun-kwong, who had taken the government to court after being treated unequall
What it’s like to be transgender in China
Chao Xiaomi considers the question: “Why are you not happy that you were born a man?” That’s because, she says, “in order to live like a man I should drink more, be stronger, have many girlfriends, play rugby – you know – do manly things.” Chao, who describes herself as gender fluid and prefers female pronouns, giggles as she covers her bright-red lipsticked mouth with a hand. We are seated in her vintage clothing shop, Equal, in the Beijing neighborhood of Gulou, known for its many surviving traditional hutong alleyway homes. She arrives slightly late for the interview and apologizes as she puts down her elegant black hat. “The traffic was terrible. I live all the way outside the sixth ring