Attitudes in China towards sexual and gender minority people are currently troublesome. But they are changing along with the generations and increasing media coverage, according to a United Nations survey.
The Survey on Social Attitudes towards Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE) involving over 30,000 respondents and conducted on behalf of the UN Development Program, shows a China where only 15% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people have come out to friends and family, and only 5% have done so in public.
“The younger the respondent the higher the proportion of those opposed to the pathological view of homosexuality, stereotype-based prejudices, gender binary ideas, and even HIV-related stigma” says the report in its introduction.
The report does not focus specifically on connections between LGBT people, discrimination and the media. But it says Chinese media could do more to portray a positive image.
“The majority of (Chinese) people do not hold negative or stereotypical views of sexual and gender minorities. They simply do not know,” said Agi Veres, UNDP Country Director for China, as part of the report. “Education and evidence-based information, including more realistic portrayal of sexual diversity in the media have a pivotal role to play going forward.
“In 2012 we only had 365 reports on LGBTI issues in the media. But in 2015 we had 867 reports. It has increased a lot. And the reports are also more objective, more positive,” said Xiaogang Wei, co-founder of China’s Rainbow Media Awards, and executive director of the NGO, Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, quoted by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.
The more progressive approach towards LGBT issues on the part of Chinese officialdom stands in contrast to a succession of recent illiberal measures in regulation of the media and entertainment sectors. These have included crimps on imported content and the banning of original news reporting by non-state online media.
Chinese people see a close correlation between coming out and discrimination in society. Discrimination exists in a range of situations, from family through to provision of health care.
Chinese literature documents centuries of gay men. But homosexuality was stigmatized after the Communist revolution in 1949, largely because it was associated with western decadence.