In conjunction with the Peking University Sociology Department and local NGO the Beijing LGBT Center, the UNDP finally released their 'Being LGBTI in China' report on Tuesday in conjunction with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. (In case you were wondering, LGBTI, in this case, stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex.)

This is the largest national survey ever conducted on sexual and gender diversity issues in China, compiling over 30,000 responses to questions in late 2015. Those identifying as LGBTI in the report are referred to as minorities, whereas non-LGBTI respondents are non-minorities.

The report's introduction reads

"The findings are clear. Sexual and gender minority people in China still live in the shadows, with only 5 percent of them willing to live their diversity openly. The majority of LGBTI people continue to face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, most importantly within the family, where the deepest forms of rejection and abuse reside. Access to health and social services remains difficult when one’s sexual orientation or gender diversity is known to, or even just suspected by, service providers. This stigma is doubly reinforced for those sexual and gender minority people who are living with HIV, who continue to face hurdles in accessing prevention and treatment services as well as stigma-free psychosocial support and counseling.

On the other side though, this report also pictures a number of significant developments. The overwhelming majority of respondents think that sexual and gender minorities should be treated equally and should be able to access social services. The majority is also in favor of promoting specific policies that would recognize LGBTI people and protect them from discrimination."

Major findings in the report demonstrate that families had the lowest degree of acceptance for minorities, over half of the respondents chose "low acceptance" or "complete rejection." Schools, workplaces, and religious communities, however, were largely ambiguous towards minorities, as half of the respondents chose "not sure" when asked about their attitude towards minorities.

Perhaps more shockingly, only 5.1 percent of the LGBTI community report to be fully out at school, while 5.4 percent are fully out at the workplace. As for within the family, only 14.6 percent are fully out. This is a shockingly low rate, especially when you consider that 74.9 percent of the gender minorities questioned for the survey described that they were not open about their sexuality at all in the workplace.

When looking at discrimination, 56.1 percent of minorities responded that they encountered discrimination from their family, while 39.6 percent were discriminated against by their school, 21 percent experienced discrimination at work, and 13.9 in their religious community.

The report also confirmed that gender binary ideas and gay-related HIV stigma still carry a lot of weight when it comes to prejudice. Over one in five respondents agreed with the gender binary ideas and showed some gay-related HIV stigma. Only one in three are strongly opposed to this attitude, and only one third of the respondents do not mind getting close to an LGBTI person.

As for the future, the survey demonstrates that many people don't hold negative views, but they simply are unaware. This leaves an incredible opportunity to educate these people, highlighting the importance of the Chinese media, in painting a picture of sexual and gender minorities' and equality. 

Even in my personal experience, having been in Beijing for three years now and active in the Beijing LGBT scene for that time too, attitudes are changing and people's minds are open to being informed.

Although it is important to keep in mind that what happens in Beijing's international LGBT scene is not necessarily a reflection on the entire country, when comparing China to the West it seems like there is not as much vocal homphobia and hatred as there is a lack of awareness, and thus opportunity for change. 

Perhaps this is also the right place to thank you, our readers, for your positive feedback on our LGBT reporting and for the sharing of our articles. 

To download the entire report (in English) and find out more about the findings, click here

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Photos: Being LGBTI in China Report, huffingtonpost.com


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