Legal experts launch China’s first non-profit foundation dedicated to offering legal aid to LGBTQ community
Published: Mar 17, 2021 09:20 PM

Photo: VCG

China's first non-profit foundation dedicated to training legal talents and offering legal aid to the LGBTQ community was launched on Tuesday by three Chinese lawyers and a law professor.

According to the founders, one major reason they wanted to start the non-profit is because many members of the LGBTQ community in China, which has more than 70 million members according to estimates, lack access to useful information about the law and legal aid when they experience discrimination and unequal treatment at places such as campuses and workplaces.

According to a survey about Chinese LGBTQ people's living conditions from the United Nations Development Program in 2017, 77 percent of LGBTQ students have experienced discrimination at school, and the response rate of sexual minorities was 5-7 percent lower than that of the mainstream population while job hunting, 

"We hope to help through legal means LGBTQ people who encounter discrimination and injustice, and promote the legal protection of sexual minorities as well as public understanding and acceptance of them," said a statement published by the foundation, known as the DF Fund, on WeChat.

The DF Fund was established by three lawyers and a law professor of the East China University of Political Science and Law after months of preparation.

Founder Ge Ang was the lawyer of the plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenged a Chinese college textbook's description of homosexuality as a "mental disorder."

Ge told the Global Times on Wednesday that they noticed those who want to offer financial or other help to the LGBTQ community often cannot find the right channels, and while crowdfunding platforms allow individuals to collect money, there are risks to that, so they decided to build a legal platform.

"There are more than 100 lawyers around the country willing to join us and help LGBTQ people who are in trouble," Ge said. The fund also seeks to provide subsidies to these lawyers so they may offer legal aid without worrying about the financial burden.

The foundation also seeks to train more legal talents who can take on important cases that will have huge social impact and help bring change to the community.

Ge pointed to the example of a case in which a transgender person was discriminated against at work and was dismissed for no reason, noting that this type of injustice is what they will pay close attention to. 

The fund also seeks to educate members of the community about the law so they can know their rights when facing injustice.

Ge said that they hope to gather more power to present the present situation of the Chinese LGBTQ community to authorities and inform legislative institutions that laws protecting the legal rights of sexual minorities still need improvement. 

"We will try to cooperate with academies and experts, and reach deputies of the National People's Congress," the lawyer said.

The foundation has established a council to supervise operations and handle finances and will create accounts on social media platforms to report on its budget and use of donations.

Ge said he was a little worried that since this is the first foundation in China dedicated to legal matters related to the LGBTQ community, they do not have any previous examples or experience to call upon. However, he noted he remains optimistic about the foundation's future despite the risks. 

"When I just started helping the community with legal matters in 2016, there were only a few people concerned about LGBTQ issues, but I have seen a sharp rise in the number of people who are keeping a watchful eye on the welfare of the community," Ge explained.

Some members of the community who the Global Times talked to have expressed their high expectations for the foundation, adding that they think the establishment of the foundation is an important milestone as well as good news for those who need help with legal matters.

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