Friday, June 9, 2023

The Silent Struggle: LGBTQIA+ Rights in Contemporary China.

"China's firm door shuts on vibrant rainbow's portal. Rights fade in the hush.
Voices silenced now as the vibrant spectrum dims. Human rights obscured."
© 2023, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

In a recent article from The Economist titled "Why the Communist Party Fears Gay Rights," the authors shed light on the harsh reality for LGBTQIA+ communities in China, under the rule of President Xi Jinping. The current atmosphere is characterized by increased power of security agencies and ideological commissars, leading to a systematic closure of LGBTQIA+ support groups.

The Chinese government seems to view sexual minorities as a political risk, stressing national security over morality in its dealings with gay-rights advocates. Despite more social tolerance for LGBTQIA+ individuals, they face strict regulations against forming communities, which is deemed a more serious offense.

The Beijing LGBTQIA+ Centre, which had existed for over 15 years, recently announced its closure. The center, among other accomplishments, had successfully filed a lawsuit in 2014 against a clinic providing electroshock therapy to "convert" gay patients. This closure, among others, is seen as a significant setback for LGBTQIA+ rights.

Interestingly, the article highlighted a shift in public sentiment. As an example, the authors referred to a 2019 case when the public was allowed to submit comments on new marriage regulations, and many citizens recommended changing "husband and wife" to "spouses" as a step towards recognizing same-sex marriages. But the Chinese government has yet to make any legislative changes reflecting this sentiment, and several groups advocating for this change have since been shut down.

The article also discusses corporate capitulation to government pressure. For instance, in 2020, a gay flight attendant at state-owned China Southern was fired for a public display of affection with a male pilot, leading to public controversy. Additionally, WeChat, the widely-used social media app, shut down dozens of accounts related to LGBTQIA+ topics.

As for the future, the authors point to an increasing sense of isolation among young people due to a lack of safe spaces for discussion. They further argue that the Chinese Communist Party perceives vulnerable groups such as the LGBTQIA+ community, feminists, labor activists, and ethnic minorities as potential instruments of subversion by foreign influences. As a result, these marginalized groups are viewed more as security threats than deserving of compassion in the current sociopolitical climate of China.