China’s LGBTQ community has long had to deal not only with societal prejudice, but also with state pressure: censorship, surveillance and intimidation, sometimes even detention by the police. In the early 2000s, however, it looked like things might be changing. Gay clubs flourished in major cities and community groups sprang up to provide social services. These days, the feeling has faded. While it’s hard to point to direct repression, the reality is that over the past decade it has become harder to be gay in China. This is seen as the consequence of a broader push by President Xi Jinping to shape a more conservative and conformist China.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997, but there is no explicit legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Same-sex couples are not allowed to marry or adopt children. The defenders had a few success in court arguing that equality and dignity rights in the constitution apply to LGBTQ people, such as when a Beijing court in 2020 ruled that a trans woman’s protection from workplace discrimination “should be within the meaning of” the law. The Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homesexuality per se from its list of mental illnesses in 2001, calling it “not necessarily abnormal”. Yet a 2020 A report by the United Nations human rights office revealed that so-called conversion therapy was still being provided in public hospitals. people living with People living with HIV/AIDS or those requesting sex reassignment surgery have reported being discriminated against by health care workers.