Only 5% of LGBTI Chinese are ‘out’

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2016/5/18 0:23:01

Many people with minority sexual orientations or gender identities in China still live in the shadows, as only around 5 percent choose to disclose their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression at school, in the workplace or in their religious communities, a recent survey found.

Sun Wenlin (left) and Hu Mingliang hold a grand wedding ceremony in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province on Tuesday. Sun, 27, sued the local bureau of civil affairs in December 2015 after his request to officially register his marriage to his boyfriend was rejected, launching China's first case seeking validation of a same-sex marriage through the courts. Photo: CFP

The report, released by the UN Development Program (UNDP) on Tuesday, said the majority of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) in China continue to face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, with over half of respondents saying they experienced "low acceptance" or "complete rejection" in their own families.

The report also highlighted LGBTI people's difficulties accessing health and social services, as service providers often reject people when they learn of or even feel a reason to doubt their sexual orientation or gender identity. This stigma is doubly felt by LGBTI people living with HIV.

The survey polled more than 30,000 people over two months in late 2015 and collected 28,454 valid questionnaires. It claims to be the largest national survey ever conducted on sexual and gender diversity issues in China.

According to the report, just over 84 percent of married LGBTI respondents are married to heterosexuals due to social pressure, while 13.2 percent said they were in "cooperation marriages" in which two LGBTI people pretend to be a heterosexual couple to avoid stigma. Only 2.6 percent of married respondents had same-sex marriages registered abroad.

The report also added that over 70 percent of people with minority sexual orientations or gender identities have been emotionally troubled by their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

"The data showed that our advocacy groups should devote more effort to fighting for equality for the group and need more support from the government and society," Ah Qiang, a well-known gay rights activist and founder of LGBT advocacy group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians And Gays China, told the Global Times.

But he said that the percentage of people who choose to openly come out of the closet reported in the UNDP survey is higher than that found by his own group's research.

However, the UNDP report also outlines some significant developments. An increasing number of respondents said they believe sexual and gender minorities should be treated equally and should have equal access to social services. Moreover, the majority of people surveyed did not hold negative or stereotypical views of sexual and gender minorities.

Also on Tuesday, a gay couple whose appeal to register their same-sex marriage was rejected by a local court in Changsha, Hunan Province, held a grand wedding ceremony in the city. The couple said they hope that the society can understand their open wedding ceremony and wish them well.

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