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Court allows textbook to call homosexuality 'mental disorder'

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·2-min read

A court in China has rejected an appeal on the decision to allow a textbook to continue calling homosexuality a mental disorder.

The lawsuit brought by Ou Jiayong, 24, was first rejected in court last year after she discovered the textbook in 2016 while a student at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou.

Mental Health Education for College Students, published by Jinan University Press in 2013 and widely available at universities in China, lists homosexuality as a a "common psychosexual disorder" alongside cross-dressing and fetishism.

Ou, who is gay herself, said she was "stung" by the discovery at the time and fought tirelessly to bring the publisher to court.

Ou, who is widely known as Xixi in Chinese media, appealed the 2020 court decision however was rejected again last week in the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court in Jiangsu province, Chinese publication The Paper reported.

Ou Jiayong, pictured, has been fighting to stop a textbook saying homosexuality is a mental illness. Source: Weibo
Ou Jiayong has been fighting to have the textbook changed for five years. Source: Weibo

'Some textbooks in China lists homosexuality as a disease'

The court upheld the ruling which deemed the book was not factually incorrect and was an academic view.

The ruling disappointed Ou, who called the decision "random and baseless", according to the South China Morning Post.

Peng Yanzi, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China previously told the New York Times some textbooks in China lists homosexuality as a disease.

“It’s quite damaging to the whole LGBT community, so we are sorely disappointed,” he said following the court's decision.

Ou's latest rejection in court has caused a wave of discussion on Twitter-like site Weibo, with her cases accumulating more than 360 million views on the platform.

The textbook, Mental Health Education for College Students.
The textbook which lists homosexuality as a "common psychosexual disorder". Source: Weibo

Court ruling disappoints many in China

Many users online were shocked by the decision and offered their support to Ou and thanked her for her fight over the last five years.

"Homosexuality is love, homophobia is the disease!" one person wrote.

"Is this the equivalent of saying discrimination is legal?" another asked.

Yet some people agreed with the court's decision, which Ou says she found "really disappointing".

While it remains difficult to come out in China and shift traditional views on partners and marriage, China is more and more accepting to homosexuality.

And while many gay people in China are reluctant to come out to family and often refer to their romantic partners as roommates or friends, activists say there is a growing acceptance of gay couples.

China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997 yet gay marriage is yet to be legalised.

It was delisted as an official psychological disorder in 2001.

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