Gay Student Sues China Over Textbooks

Many medical textbooks in China classify homosexuality as a curable disease
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2015 5:25 PM CST
Gay rights activists run in China's Hangzhou International Marathon earlier this month. A gay student is suing the Chinese government over textbooks classifying homosexuality as a curable disease.   (Chinatopix Via AP)

(Newser) – A Chinese student is suing her government over medical textbooks that classify homosexuality as a mental disorder that can be cured through shock therapy. Twenty-year-old Qui Bai—whose family turned away from her when they found out she was gay—was looking for answers about her sexuality two years ago when she found the offending passages in textbooks published by China's education ministry, NBC News reports. "I thought textbooks should be trustworthy, but when I saw these lines I felt horrible," she says. "This is discrimination against homosexuality." According to the Washington Post, the ministry ignored Qui's letter asking it to correct the books—the Chinese Psychiatric Association hasn't classified homosexuality as a mental disorder since 2001—and she filed a lawsuit in August.

The New York Times reports two-dozen supporters waved signs and a rainbow flag outside a Chinese courthouse during a discussion between Qui and education officials Tuesday. While nothing was settled, Qui and her lawyer say it was a minor victory to even have the discussion while China continues to crack down on activists and human-rights lawyers. Discrimination against homosexuals is prevalent in China, and experts say with little in the way of sex education, medically accurate textbooks are essential, according to the Post. "Because textbooks are seen as having authority, everyone—including the students, the teachers, and the parents—believes them," one activist tells the Post. NBC reports 40% of textbooks still classified homosexuality as a disease as of 2014. "This case is not even close to ending,"Qui says. "I won't give it up." (Read more China stories.)

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