China now has the biggest LGBT economy in the world, but still no same-sex marriage

China Pride run same-sex marriage LGBT economy

China now has the biggest LGBT+ economy in the world, a market research firm has said, but LGBT+ people still face a massive amount of stigma and equal marriage is yet to be legalised.

According to Daxue Consulting, China’s LGBT+ market is the largest in the world in terms of population, reaching between 60 and 70 million people, and is currently worth around $300billion to $500billion (£230billion to £390billion).

All mention of homosexuality was removed from Chinese criminal law in 1997, and being gay was declassified as a mental disorder by the Chinese Society of Psychiatry in 2001.

But the huge value of the “pink yuan” has not moved the government to extend LGBT+ rights in recent years, and stigma and discrimination are still rife in the country.

A 2016 United Nations survey found that just 15 percent of LGBT+ people had come out to their immediate family, and just five percent disclosed their gender identity or sexual orientation in their school, workplace or religious community.

In November 2019, a human rights report revealed that LGBT+ people in China are still being forced to undergo so-called ‘conversion therapy‘ in at least 96 public hospitals and unlicensed centres.

Some businesses, however, are taking notice of the “untapped” LGBT+ economy.

Allison Malmsten, China analyst at Daxue Consulting, told Reuters: “Young Chinese people do appear to be opening up and accepting LGBT+ culture. The LGBT+ market in China has a lot of untapped potential.”

Last month, one of China’s biggest tech companies, the Alibaba Group, released an advert showing two men returning to one of their homes for the Lunar New Year. The ad went viral and was praised by LGBT+ communities in China.

Malmsten added: “Many of these companies have young consumers and showing inclusivity simply makes an ad memorable.

“Look at the buzz created from the Alibaba advert – netizens and media spreading the advertisement all over, and at no extra cost for the company.”

Despite the slight increase in LGBT+ visibility through advertising, the government is still censoring queer content.

Censorship of LGBT+ issues has long been a problem in China, and a significant number of films LGBT+ themes – such as Brokeback MountainCall Me By Your Name and Deadpool – are banned entirely.