Jul 21, 2011 By Susie Gordon , eChinacities.com

The Post that Set it All Off

When famous Chinese actress Lü Liping took to her Weibo last month to decry homosexuality as “a sin”, she stirred up an online debate that had countless public figures wading in to agree or disagree with her statements. Re-posting comments by a priest in relation to the legalisation of gay marriage in New York, Lü’s homophobia brought other bigots out of the woodwork, such as her own husband, Sun Haiying who believes that homosexuality is “a sin against humanity”.

The openly gay film critic and playwright Cheng Qingsong spoke for many when he asked: "Do Sun Haiying and Lü Liping think that we should delete the same-sex plot in Dream of Red Mansions? That we must call them sinners when we see Pai Hsien-yung, Kevin Tsai and Ricky Martin? That we should condemn Liu Ye, Chen Sicheng, Tony Leung and Vivian Chow for their gay movie roles? That we should ban Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain?" Kevin Tsai, the gay Taiwanese television host, also denounced Lü, leading the opposition against her bigotry.

The Gay Debate: Tolerance with a Voice
Source: flickr.com

The Public’s Reaction

In the aftermath of the brouhaha, an online Sina poll of 60,000 web users found that 70% supported Tsai while only 15% agreed with Lü. From the same cohort, 47% of respondents saw no difference between gay and straight people and only 6% opposed homosexuality. A further 5% believed that other people’s sexual preferences were none of their business.

The affair sparked discussion about the acceptance of homosexuality in China. Exactly how many gay people there are on the Mainland is not known. In 2006, the Ministry of Health estimated that there were five to 10 million homosexuals in China. Sexologist and gay activist Li Yinhe believes that the figure is closer to 48 million, while the official number quoted by the state media is 30 million. Up until 2001, homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder, and was considered an act of “hooliganism” by law until 1997. The repealing of these policies has done much to alter perceptions of gay people as mentally ill criminals, and is a clear step forward in bringing China up to date.

The Gay Debate: Tolerance with a Voice
Source: welt.de

While there are no laws forbidding homosexuality, there are also no rules against discrimination. However, cases of gay bashing are extremely rare. Generally speaking, the feeling over recent years seems to have been "three nos", i.e. no approval, no disapproval, and no promotion (不支持, 不反对, 不提倡). In a 2008 survey by Li Yinhe, 91% of people questioned said that they agreed homosexuals should have equal employment rights, and over 80% agreed that gay people are equal to straights. Less cheering was the fact that a narrow majority disagreed that an openly gay person should be a teacher, while 40% of respondents believed that homosexuality was “completely wrong.”

A Cultural Source of Thought

However, it is not a right-wing Christian agenda that is responsible for intolerance of homosexuality in China as it is in the United States. Conversely, it is the hangover of Confucianism that pits non-accepting parent against gay child. The most grievous crime in Confucian thought is the state of being unfilial, and depriving ones parents of a longed-for grandchild (preferably a boy) is a serious offence. This is why the vast majority of gay people end up marrying a member of the opposite sex.

The Gay Debate: Tolerance with a Voice
Source: tomgpalmer.com

The greatest proof that homosexuality is acceptable in China would be the legalisation of gay marriage, but this will be a long time coming if the recent past is anything to go by.

The issue was brought up for the first time when Chinese marriage law was re-evaluated in 2003. Suggestions were rejected, as were efforts by Li Yinhe when she petitioned for legalisation at the National People's Congress in 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2007. A bill to discuss the matter will only be accepted by the Congress if it is signed by 35 delegates, so more widespread support is necessary before legalisation is even discussed.

The Future of Homosexuality in China

As the years pass and the older generation bows out in favour of a more modern, tolerant and educated demographic, we can expect to see more prevalent acceptance of homosexuality. Only last year, the Smile4Gay campaign saw nearly 5,000 heterosexual members of the public rally in support of gay rights, holding up pro-LGBT signs. Most participants were in their 20s, but supporters included several elderly and middle-aged people, as well as Buddhist monks.

Undoubtedly there is still a fair way to go before homosexuality is widely accepted in China, and stunts like Lü Liping’s outburst do little to further the cause. However, as time passes and outdated prejudices are consigned to history where they belong, things will change and China will be a better place for people who identify as gay. Without the jackboot of right-wing Christianity looming large as it does in the United States, China has a good chance of becoming a liberal nation when it comes to gay acceptance.

Related links
Gay China
Mr. Gay China Pageant Cancelled Abruptly
Out and Proud: Shanghai’s LGBT Scene

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Keywords: gay debate in China Lu Liping anti gay comments gay tolerance in China

64 Comments Add your comment



As a lesbian myself, who has come across many Chinese people; from all the people I've come across only 1 person was disapproving of homosexuality. Everyone else however thinks it's perfectly fine and not strange at all. The people I come by are usually 16-26 though; whom are probably just more accepting people in general. But, to me, it's a good sign. :] The lack of a HUGE Christian influence probably helps a lot. Like, if you look at Taiwan; that's probably one of the most gay friendly places in Asia, not many Christians there if you compare it to say...Korea or something. Acceptance seems a lot easier in these places then here in the states for sure (though it's getting better here too). If it wasn't for that "long blood line/grandchildren" stuff, I'm sure even the elders wouldn't be as opposing. ^^ Though, it's not like gay people aren't fertile or anything; sperm banks and surrogate mothers do exist....you know, that or get drunk with a friend(or a stranger o.o), have sex that you won't remember, and boom pregnant! :V lol

Jul 21, 2011 08:47 Report Abuse



Ok, i think you have a point about Chinese people generally being open to gay people. But the comment you made on "get drunk with a friend, stranger, then boom pregnant for a baby". These kind of comments or way of thinking really pisses me off, and it hurts the community. I can tell that you will not be the best mom around.

Jul 21, 2011 16:47 Report Abuse




That's the worst attempt at begging for tolerence that I've ever seen. Never attempt to bring a child to this world. You'll be a terribly irresponsible parent

Jul 21, 2011 19:15 Report Abuse



I wasn't being serious, don't be so butt hurt.

Jul 21, 2011 19:47 Report Abuse



Boa, I disagree with you. I believe you must be convinced you have had a good experience and you seem to want to show this is because Christianity hurts homosexuals. But I disagree with your cultural analysis in general. I do believe that the vast majority of people in China think it is, at least, very strange or 'weird' what you do sexually. I believe your sexuality is less tolerated in China than it is in, predominantly, Christian countries and it is my belief you are mistaking Chinese acceptance of anything in general (and i mean their social way of being entirely unmoved) as some kind of special acceptance of your homosexuality as 'perfectly fine'. To put it another way - If I tell most Chinese I routinely bathe in tar and feathers - they will also react 'perfectly fine' and often give no indication anything strange was said.
Anyways, my experience is that the vast majority of Chinese would have no doubt homosexuality is something of a strange sex fetish. I agree with them. But I could say that in China. I would not be 'correct' to say that in my own country. So I appreciate the freedom of speech in China.

Jul 21, 2011 23:27 Report Abuse



I so agree with you! I think that's totally the reason! I don't think it has anything to do with acceptance or non-acceptance. I think that most people just go around not thinking about or noticing anything in general in China, especially when it comes to foreigners. If Chinese people were so accepting they wouldn't have to hide all their gay bars in dark corners where you would have to know where to look. Also, places like Shanghai and Beijing are vastly different then the rest of the country. In other provinces, people can't even walk down the street and hold hands, much less kiss (these are straight couples), without getting evil stares or weird treatment.

Jul 25, 2011 07:55 Report Abuse



Gay in china .... i think are mainly "female" .... men are ok...

Jul 21, 2011 20:33 Report Abuse



In China they accept others freedom to be whatever they like, but Chinese culture is strong enough to stand against this JOKE.
nature is clear what is the meaning of sex? what is the use of it? why we need it?
Sex is a gift to normal people, to be able to make a family. how can you get a baby without opposit sex?
you can buy a baby or get a relation with a stranger but do you think that you are responsible? if you are crazy or stupid, what is the baby mistake to grow without a father?

Jul 21, 2011 21:41 Report Abuse



Why do western people (if I can say this) always think it is okay to pollute their stupid thoughts in China! Go back to country and fix up your mess, not come here and think you know what the World needs, Queers are the scourge against the human race, they don't care about nothing only themselves. You won't last long in history!! come on attack me you scum!!

Jul 22, 2011 04:07 Report Abuse



Well said my friend. Westerners should stop spitting their venom in China

Jul 22, 2011 08:35 Report Abuse



gay isn't only a sin it's a shame and disrespect to one self , it's damn stupid !!! . those people just want to full fill their " low desires " they don't know how this bad habit will end up with , for instance , America after 20 years no people only gay guys hahaha really stupid !!!

Jul 22, 2011 11:25 Report Abuse



wow, i'm amazed how narrow minded you are, Alex, MAYBE there are people in China, who are "stupid" like you say, and are staying in China, but it's just so unfair to talk about "western people" in general in your comment like that, makes you the one who is truly STUPID!

And I'm shocked about Harry's comment!!!!! But not because of his plain stupid comment that is not even worth to be discussed, what amazed me is he got 10 thumb-ups!!!!! It's already 2011, people!!! open your mind!!!!

Aug 10, 2011 05:16 Report Abuse



I AGREE with Lu Liping 100% Homosexuality and lesbianism is a Sin and should not be encouraged in no uncertain terms, the actors who play roles as gays and lesbians are doing nothing but the glorification of sinful acts and must be condenmed as well, the movie makers and directores are also using this topics to entice the innocent ones thereby making more money from sales and the hyping of their movies, what is wrong is wrong and what is right is right , I can tolerate you but that does not mean I should accept the wrong things you do in the name of tolerance, Gay and lesbianism is nothing but the desire to satisfy the evil desires of a weak mans heart, it is a sin in no uncertain terms and even to the bodies of those who take part in such shameful acts, silence has been the greatest weakness of society and our reluctance to stand up for what is right has led to this canker creeping into our world, Gay and lesbianism has never been right since the time of history and can never be right now, let us not be fooled by word civilazation because civilization is about moving right and not left.

Jul 22, 2011 07:36 Report Abuse



Homophobe?! See...that is what ticks me off more than anything. I am sick and tired of being called a bigot and a homophobe, and people saying I am a horrible person just because I express my disapproval of homosexuality. I do beleive it is a sin, but even if you don't bring religion into it...it is still against nature.
If gay people want to be gay, that's their business. You can be gay. But, don't I have the right to express my opinion against it? After all, like you said...."we are one and the same". So we should all have a right to our opinions without the gay community saying we are homophobes or horrible, evil bigots.

Jul 22, 2011 20:21 Report Abuse



Love is true. all giving and not selfish so if you engage in acts that end up destroying the human anus which was ment for the releasing of excreter but NOT for sex, is this what love teaches you, is bringing harm to your owm body called love? and to the person whoes anus you work on knowing it will hurt him, do you really love him? its nothing but to satisfy your selfish and evil desire, straight is not bigotry but real love

Jul 23, 2011 09:31 Report Abuse



Well in that case your mouth should only be for eating, not for narrowminded, hateful speech that is bringing harm to social moral.
And being gay is not solely about the anus you clueless person. So is stimulating the clitoris evil too? Should lesbians get a female circumcision and live in pain for the rest of their lives? So you have a problem with people using their anus in ways other than shitting? What about people stuffing too much mcdonalds into their obese stomachs...that's wrong too but are you kicking up a big fuss about that? And what is it to you how someone uses their own body parts....it has nothing to do with you.

Don't talk about love if you haven't learned how to love the things or people who are different to you, otherwise you're just a hypocrite.

Jul 23, 2011 17:57 Report Abuse



Homophobe in English means, one who has a phobia of homosexuals, is that not an accurate description of your feelings. Why would you try to pretend to be something that you are not?

How would you define someone that has a fear of heights, or a phobia of spiders? Is there really a semantic difference between 'vertigo' and 'scared of heights'?

The fact that you cannot admit you are homophobic shows you have a long way to go to strengthen yourself. Homophobia is an irrational fear that can be overcome, just like vertigo, or aracnephodia, or claustrophia. Society views these phobias as flaws that should be overcome, and that is how I view homophobics. You are just ignorant because you don't have any gay friends and do not understand what gay culture is, and you will not necessarliy 'turn gay' if you become more accepting of the phenomenon. It's ok my friend there is no need to fear the gays, they mean you no harm.

Jul 24, 2011 02:39 Report Abuse



Homosexuality is actually not against nature, as it is occurs within most animal species.

Aug 09, 2011 04:34 Report Abuse



you are just a very mean person, full of hatred and your life sucks !

**from a straight person.

Aug 10, 2011 05:21 Report Abuse



Professor of Psychology.
How wrong can you be.
I AGREE with Lu Liping 100% Homosexuality and lesbianism is a Sin and should not be encouraged in no uncertain terms,( so falling in love is a bad thing)) the actors who play roles as gays and lesbians are doing nothing but the glorification of sinful acts and must be condemned as well, (( so making a documentary movie about the truth is wrong)) the movie makers and directors are also using this topics to entice the innocent ones (( or educating them))thereby making more money from sales and the hyping of their movies, what is wrong is wrong and what is right is right , (( so why did mother nature make gay animals and even bisexual plants?)) I can tolerate you but that does not mean I should accept the wrong things you do in the name of tolerance,(( what people do is their business)) Gay and lesbianism is nothing but the desire to satisfy the evil desires of a weak mans heart, ((OH,, falling in love is wrong now)) it is a sin in no uncertain terms and even to the bodies of those who take part in such shameful acts, ((oh, so it is bad to have sexual pleasure? And that would mean masturbation is wrong, because it is have sex,, with the same gender))(( on world wide surveys of how many gay people there are, there are still less of a percentage of gay people in prisons)) silence has been the greatest weakness of society and our reluctance to stand up for what is right has led to this canker creeping into our world, Gay and lesbianism has never been right since the time of history (( and there has been gay people since the dawn of time))and can never be right now, let us not be fooled by word civilization because civilization is about moving right and not left.
By the way, if you are a man, do you love your father?
I think you should open your eyes and learn.

Aug 10, 2012 01:00 Report Abuse



I am an American gay man. I met my husband who is from China on the internet in 2004. After a year of chatting daily we decided to meet in person. The only way for this to happen was for him to apply to school here in America. But unfortunately US tourist visa's are not given that freely to Chinese people. He applied to 4 schools, and was accepted at all 4, but was turned down by the US government 4 times to become a student here. A friend of his from high school had just returned from Canada where he had just received his bachelors degree. Upon hearing this information, we decided to try Canada. He was accepted to school, and we met, realized we truly loved each other, and eventually married in 2008. He just graduated with high honor's in June, and was offered a full scholarship for his masters as well as a teachers aid position at his alma matter, and offered a scholarship here in my state in the US as well. The only problem with him moving here to the US to my hometown to be with my family and I was my government in the US does not recognize our married on a federal level, no matter how many states recognize gay marriage. This meant that he would have to apply to the US government again for a student visa, show that he has more than 40 thousand American dollars in the bank to support himself, and I was in no way a sponsor, of recognized as a spouse. After 6 years of commuting over 600 miles, and sometimes going for 6 months at a time from seeing each other. Fortunately the great country of Canada has allowed me a work visa so I may pursue my career there, and we may live together as my husband works diligently towards his doctorate to one day become a professor. We have both been driven from our home countries because neither accept our beautiful bond of love. I am so thankful there is a place on this planet like Canada that will allow us just the basic freedom any human being deserves, and that is to love, and be loved in return. As for after he has acquired his degree, we only hope we are lucky enough to be accepted as citizens of the great country of Canada. I only hope that in the future, for the sake of other young GLBT people in the world. Love like ours will be viewed for what it is. Genderless, ageless, timeless, cross-cultural, spirtual, and so much more, and that we are all mere humans wanting to love, and help each other to live, learn, and survive on this small infinitesimal speck of dust hurling through space.

Jul 22, 2011 09:57 Report Abuse



To the homophobes spouting their bile, I have a single question: why does the sexuality of other people bother you so much?

Jul 22, 2011 17:48 Report Abuse



It doesn't really bother me. People can be gay all they want. They are the ones that will answer for it, not me. But if gay people can be proud of their homosexuality and be open about it, then I should also have the right to express my opinion about it. It is not just against most major religious teachings, it is also against nature!

Jul 22, 2011 20:26 Report Abuse



Because these are the same people who are making noise every where and asking for rights they do not deserve whiles sedomizing young boys and decieving innocent kids into thier ranks by enticing them with money and all manner of gifts and promises, if you think been a gay is cool can you please tell me the primary purpose of the human anus?

Jul 23, 2011 09:23 Report Abuse



Thank God there's at least one person talking sense in this comments section!

Jul 23, 2011 18:05 Report Abuse