A university student in Guangdong province is waging a legal battle against China’s Ministry of Education over textbooks which describe homosexuality as a “disorder” that can be treated.
The female student, who filed the lawsuit under the alias Qiu Bai, was alerted to the content when she was questioning her own sexuality and sought out books at the library for more guidance.
She was surprised to find that every book she turned to had still categorized homosexuality as a mental disorder, despite it being removed from the official list of psychiatric disorders in China back in 2001. The books also condoned the use of electroshock therapy to “cure” homosexuality.
Qiu reached out to the ministry on May 14 about revising the content, but received no response within the required limit of 15 days. She decided to file a lawsuit against the ministry in return, Xinhua reports.
“Homosexuals are already under great pressure. Additional stigma from textbooks will cause direct harm. The MOE should bear the duty to monitor and supervise such content,” Qiu said.
Her lawsuit application has been received at the Beijing Municipal No.1 Intermediate People’s Court.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Campus Association, over 40 percent of new textbooks in China printed since 2001 still refer to homosexuality as a disorder that can treated with “gay conversion therapy”, which has never been proven effective.
Last year, a gay rights activist sued a counseling center along with Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, in the nation’s first ever ‘gay conversion’ suit. He won, and documented the process in an Al Jazeera documentary.