According to Chinese law, homosexuality may be considered “a psychological disorder”.
A court in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu ruled that a textbook defining being gay as a disorder is “not factual error but a divergent academic view”, the South China Morning Post reported. The ruling, from the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court, upholds a lower court’s ruling.
China’s LGBTQ community has criticised the decision. Ou Jiayong, 24, who filed the lawsuit as a college student in 2017 to get the textbook’s publisher to pull its “poor-quality work” from circulation, called the ruling “random and baseless”.
Ah Qiang, a spokesman for a support group for the gay Chinese community and their families, accused the textbook’s editors and the courts of being out of touch with contemporary culture.
Officially, homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997, and ceased classification as a mental illness in 2001.
Ou, who prefers to be called Xixi, discovered the text in a 2013 edition of “Mental Health Education for College Students” during her first year at South China Agricultural University in 2016.
The book described homosexuality among “common psychosexual disorders”, and stated same-sex relationships are “believed to be a disruption of love and sex or perversion of the sex partner”.
Xixi sued the book’s publisher, demanding the company remove the reference and publicly apologise for the homophobic content, which has been disseminated throughout universities in China.
The lower court’s ruling argued that the advocate’s case also lacked scholarly support, calling the matter a difference of opinion.
In November, Xixi filed the appeal that just ruled against her. She disagrees that her evidence was lacking and plans to continue her fight.
“Maybe this ruling is to reduce controversy,” she said. “But it has also allowed textbooks that pathologize homosexuality to continue circulating, which is a pity.”