Chinese Court Faces Backlash For Ruling Homosexuality ‘A Mental Disorder’

by : Emily Brown on : 03 Mar 2021 11:07
Chinese Court Faces Backlash For Ruling Homosexuality 'A Mental Disorder'PA Images

A court in China is facing backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and its advocates after it ruled that homosexuality could be described as a ‘mental disorder’. 

The case was brought to the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern province of Jiangsu after 24-year-old Ou Jiayong, who also uses the name Xixi, came across a psychology textbook that described being gay as a mental disorder.


Jiayong came across the 2013 edition of Mental Health Education for College Students in 2016, during her first year of study at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.


The book lists homosexuality under ‘common psychosexual disorders’, along with cross-dressing and fetishism, The South China Morning Post reports. It further states that homosexuality ‘was believed to be a disruption of love and sex or perversion of the sex partner’.

The textbook is used by a number of Chinese universities, and Jiayong decided to take action as she worried it perpetuated the belief that being gay is wrong. In 2017, she sued the publisher and the online retailer that stocks the book, demanding that it remove the description and give a public apology.


Jiayong argued that the book was ‘poor quality work’ as it used the description despite having no scientific evidence to back it up, but last year the Suyu District People’s Court in Suqian ruled in favour of the publishing house, saying that Jiayong’s issue with the description were down to a difference of opinion, rather than a factual error.

Couple kissing at pridePA Images

Jiayong appealed against the ruling in November, at which point the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court looked at the case. In a ruling handed down last week, the court upheld the previous judgement, claiming the description was an ‘academic view’.

The 24-year-old, who works as a social worker, slammed the decision and claimed it was ‘random and baseless’.


Per The South China Morning Post, she commented, ‘Maybe this ruling is to reduce controversy. But it has also allowed textbooks that pathologise homosexuality to continue circulating, which is a pity.’

Jiayong plans to work with other people in the LGBTQ+ community to see if there’s any more they can do to tackle the description.


Ah Qiang, spokesperson for PFLAG, a local peer support group for families and friends of the queer community, also criticised the court’s ruling, saying, ‘The editor of the textbook apparently used viewpoints that do not match society’s perception of sexual minorities today.’


Homosexuality was descriminalised in China in 1997 and removed from a list of mental illnesses in 2001, more than a decade after the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Homosexuals who are ‘discordant with themselves’ or who feel anxious or depressed because of their sexuality are still listed in the official Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, China, LGBTQ+, Now


South China Morning Post
  1. South China Morning Post

    Homosexuality can be called a mental disorder, Chinese court rules; LGBT community disappointed