Man sues government after gay organization refusal

2014-02-20 07:44:35 GMT2014-02-20 15:44:35(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

CHANGSHA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- A man in central China is suing the local government after officials refused his application to register a gay organization by replying that homosexuality is "against the construction of cultural and ideological progress."

Xiang Xiaohan (a pseudonym), a resident of Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, filed a lawsuit against the Hunan Department of Civil Affairs (HDCA) on Wednesday, accusing authorities of defamation in their replies.

At the end of 2013, Xiang made multiple visits to Changsha's civil affairs bureau to consult about registering a gay organization, but staff told him on each occasion that such groups "cannot be registered at the moment."

He later filled out a form requesting the reasons for the refusal and turned it in to the HDCA, which replied that organizations should act in accordance with morals, and that gay organizations, which are "against tradition and the construction of cultural and ideological progress," should therefore not be established.

"That statement is detrimental to the reputation of the gay community," Xiang said, adding that the statement should be retracted and that the HDCA should issue an apology. Despite Xiang's strong protests, the HDCA has failed to make any replies to him yet.

Xiang initiated an online campaign for same-sex rights with several friends in 2009, with group helping to organize a number of anti-discrimination activities in Changsha. But the organization has remained coy about its brick-and-mortar programs due to a lack of legal recognition, Xiang said.

The gay activist said that he hopes related departments can help facilitate registration for gay organizations in Changsha, because "the law does not specifically prohibit it."

The local court will decide whether to put the case on file within the next seven days.

Homosexuality was removed from the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders in 2001, after the World Health Organization did the same on May 17, 1990. However, conservative attitudes still persist in many aspects of Chinese society.

In some areas, young homosexual people are forced by their parents to receive medical treatment to try to alter their sexual orientation.

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