Student suing Chinese government over textbooks that claim gays need electroshock therapy

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A Chinese court is hearing a student’s case against the Ministry of Education – because textbooks in her university refer to homosexuality as a disorder.

Qiu Bai, a 21-year-old student at a university in southern Guangdong province, is suing the country’s ministry of education over outdated that suggest homosexuality is a condition that can be ‘cured’ by electroshock therapy.

Despite the Chinese Psychiatric Association declassifying homosexuality as a mental illness back in 2001, a psychology textbook published in 2013 told her: “Sexual orientation disorder is a sexual psychological disorder that involves being sexually attracted to abnormal objects. It includes pedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia and homosexuality.”

The student has attempted to resolve the case with the ministry of education several times, only to hit brick walls.

She said previously: “I thought textbooks must be authoritative,… after reading them, I was terrified. I was even more afraid to admit that I’m gay.

“Homosexuals are already under great pressure. Additional stigma from textbooks will cause direct harm. The ministry should bear the duty to monitor and supervise such content.

“Speaking from my personal experience, these textbooks would definitely upset gay students,” she said. “And I later learned that gay people across the country have been hurt by this kind of textbook.”

A court in Beijing is this week hearing the case.

Although the ministry of education did not send representation and have not commented on the case, it is not expected that a court would find against the government agency.

Ms Qui said: “As someone studying within the education system, when the ministry of education tells me that the education materials have no connection with us and we won’t deal with it, it’s really disappointing.”

Her lawyer told Reuters: “I hope that the judge can fulfil their responsibility in line with the law and give us a ruling that we can accept.”

The Ministry of Education declined to comment on the case.

Lawyer Wang Zhenyu added of the case:”It will push the government to adhere to the regulations on open access to information and to exercise proper oversight over textbooks.

“What’s more, it will spark discussions about the discrimination homosexuals still face.”