After the Chinese Communist government previously decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from the country's official list of things deemed mental disorders in 2001, a major court decision in China this week has "shocked" various rights monitors by once again classifying homosexuality as among "common psychosexual disorders."
According to South China Morning Post, this latest ruling began with a legal dispute over a higher education textbook, namely the 2013 edition of Mental Health Education for College Students, published by Jinan University Press. A lawsuit filed by a student challenged the book given that it—
...listed homosexuality under "common psychosexual disorders" – along with cross-dressing and fetishism. It stated that homosexuality "was believed to be a disruption of love and sex or perversion of the sex partner".
On Tuesday the Suqian Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern province of Jiangsu upheld a ruling by a lower court that agreed with the textbook's classification, allowing the book to remain in multiple university programs. The court dubbed it a legitimate "academic view" as part of the ruling.
It ends a years' long legal saga the result of which is sure to come under fire from the World Health Organization – not to mention also some of the same progressives in the West who are often heard to defend China and the CCP on a range of issues.
The New York Post reviewed the legal battle leading to this latest deeply controversial ruling as follows:
China’s LGBTQ community has criticized the decision. Ou Jiayong, 24, who filed the lawsuit as a college student in 2017 to get the textbook’s publisher to pull its "poor-quality work" from circulation, called the ruling "random and baseless."
Ah Qiang, a spokesperson for PFLAG, a support group for the queer Chinese community and their families, accused the textbook’s editors and the courts of being out of touch with contemporary culture.
Interestingly it was only as late as 1990 that the WHO itself alongside the United Nations declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. And according to data from Bank of America, it is still considered 'unlawful' in the criminal codes of up to one-third of nations across the globe.
Here's BofA's review of the data:
If LGBTQ+ were a nation, it would be the 4th largest economy in the world at US$3.9tn. Further, LGBT rights have transformed in the past 30 years: 1990 saw the UN declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder, 46 countries have decriminalized homosexuality since 1990, 28 countries have legalized gay marriage as of 2020 and in 2019 the WHO declassified identifying as transgender as a "mental disorder".
However, discrimination and exclusion still occur. 15 countries allow for death penalties or life imprisonment for homosexuality and a further 49 countries have prison sentences. Only 81 countries have some form of employment protection. Positively though, LGBTQ+ acceptance in the US is at record levels aided by growing openness and gender fluidity in younger generations.
All of this also followed the landmark1973 decision by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to have the 'diagnosis of homosexuality' removed as something which could be pathologized.
Very likely the Biden White House will now add this as the latest among the growing list of human rights abuses cited by the administration, which has lately centered most notably on Muslim Uighur persecution that the Trump administration had deemed "genocide".