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Chinese court rules that homosexuality can now be called a mental disorder

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A court in China has upheld a lower court’s ruling in favour of a textbook’s description of homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The decision of the Suqian intermediate people’s court in the eastern province of Jiangsu was called ‘random and baseless’ by Ou Jiayong, also known as Xixi, who had filed the lawsuit.

In 2016, Xixi had discovered a psychology textbook that described being gay as a mental disorder during her studies at the South China agricultural university in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

In 1990, the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder following which China followed suit and decriminalised homosexuality in 1997. Two years later, in 2001, China removed it from the official list of mental disorders.

Despite this, a psychology textbook being used by a number of Chinese universities listed homosexuality under ‘common psychosexual disorders’ along with cross-dressing and fetishism.

The textbook is the 2013 edition of mental health education for college students published by Jinan University Press.

Following this, Xixi, 24, and her friends protested against it in front of the office of the textbook’s publisher. They argue that the book is perpetuating the belief that being gay was wrong and then, in 2017, they filed a case against the publisher asking it to remove the reference.

But, last year, the Suyu district people’s court in Suqian held that opposing views of Xixi and the publisher were due to differences in opinion instead of being a factual error.

As a result, in November 2020, Xixi, who is now a social worker in Hong Kong, appealed against the ruling which has now again not gone in her favour.

Her case and subsequent appeal had generated serious support from China’s LGBT community but the court’s decision on Tuesday, 2 March, has left them disappointed.

However, she is not calling it quits and discussing with legal experts to see if there is any possibility to take the case further.

Ah Qiang, an activist for LGBT rights, stated that the textbook’s editor has used viewpoints that do not match society’s perception of sexual minorities in the present times.

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