Homosexuality in China

Homosexuality in China has been documented in China since ancient times. According to one study, homosexuality was regarded as a normal facet of life in China, prior to the Western impact of 1840 onwards.[1] However, this has been disputed.[2] Several early Chinese emperors are speculated to have had homosexual relationships accompanied by heterosexual ones.[3] Opposition to homosexuality, according to the study by Hinsch, did not become firmly established in China until the 19th and 20th centuries, through the Westernization efforts of the late Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China.[4] On the other hand, Gulik's study argued that the Mongol Yuan dynasty introduced a more ascetic attitude to sexuality in general.[5][6]

For most of the 20th century, homosexual sex was banned in the People's Republic of China until it was legalized in 1997. In 2001, homosexuality was removed from the official list of mental illnesses in China.[7]

Love play in China
Young men sipping tea and having sex. Individual panel from a hand scroll on homosexual themes, paint on silk; China, Qing Dynasty (eighteenth to nineteenth centuries); Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana, United States

In a survey by the organization WorkForLGBT of 18,650 lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, 3% of males and 6% of females surveyed described themselves as "completely out". A third of the men surveyed, as well as 9% of the women surveyed said they were in the closet about their sexuality. 18% of men surveyed answered they had come out to their families, while around 80% were reluctant due to family pressure.

There was a giant step forward for the China LGBT community after the Weibo incident in April 2018. People's Daily, China's political propaganda newspaper, published a commentary (in Chinese) emphasizing that there is more than one sexual orientation in the world, and that homosexuality is by no means a psychological disorder. Citing a textbook of sex education for primary school students in China, the article argued: It's personal choice as to whether you approve of homosexuality or not. But rationally speaking, it should be consensus that everyone should respect other people's sexual orientations.



Traditional terms for homosexuality included "the passion of the cut sleeve" (Chinese: 斷袖之癖; pinyin: duànxiù zhī pǐ), and "the divided peach" (Chinese: 分桃; pinyin: fēntáo). An example of the latter term appears in a 6th-century poem by Liu Xiaozhuo:

— She dawdles, not daring to move closer, / Afraid he might compare her with leftover peach.[10]

Other, less literary, terms have included "male trend" (男風; nánfēng), "allied brothers" (香火兄弟; xiānghuǒ xiōngdì), and "the passion of Longyang" (龍陽癖; lóngyángpǐ), referencing a homoerotic anecdote about Lord Long Yang in the Warring States period. The formal modern word for "homosexuality/homosexual(s)" is tongxinglian (同性戀; tóngxìngliàn; 'same-sex relations/love') or tongxinglian zhe (同性戀者; tóngxìngliàn zhě, homosexual people). Instead of that formal word, "tongzhi" (同志; tóngzhì), simply a head rhyme word, is more commonly used in the gay community. Tongzhi (literally: 'comrade'; sometimes along with nü tongzhi, 女同志; nǚ tóngzhì; 'female comrade'), which was first adopted by Hong Kong researchers in Gender Studies, is used as slang in Mandarin Chinese to refer to homosexuals. Such usage is seen in Taiwan. However, in mainland China, tongzhi is used both in the context of the traditional "comrade" sense (e.g., used in speeches by Communist Party officials) and to refer to homosexuals. In Cantonese, gei1 (), adopted from English gay, is used. "Gay" is sometimes considered to be offensive when used by heterosexuals or even by homosexuals in certain situations. Another slang term is boli (玻璃; bōli; 'crystal or glass'), which is not so commonly used. Among gay university students, the acronym "datong" (大同; dàtóng; 'great togetherness'), which also refers to utopia, in Chinese is becoming popular. Datong is short for daxuesheng tongzhi (university students [that are] homosexuals).

Lesbians usually call themselves lazi (拉子; lāzi) or lala (拉拉, pinyin: lālā). These two terms are abbreviations of the transliteration of the English term "lesbian".[11] These slang terms are also commonly used in mainland China now.[11]

Traditional views

Woman spying on male lovers
A woman spying on a pair of male lovers

The political ideologies, philosophies, and religions of ancient China regarded homosexual relationships as a normal facet of life, and in some cases, promoted homosexual relationships as exemplary. Ming Dynasty literature, such as Bian Er Chai (弁而釵/弁而钗), portrays homosexual relationships between men as enjoyable relationships.[12] Writings from the Liu Song Dynasty claimed that homosexuality was as common as heterosexuality in the late 3rd century:

All the gentlemen and officials esteemed it. All men in the realm followed this fashion to the extent that husbands and wives were estranged. Resentful unmarried women became jealous.[1]

Confucianism, being primarily a social and political philosophy, focused little on sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual. However, the ideology did emphasize male friendships, and Louis Crompton has argued that the "closeness of the master-disciple bond it fostered may have subtly facilitated homosexuality".[13] Although Taoist alchemy regarded heterosexual sex, without ejaculation, as a way of maintaining a male's "life essence", homosexual intercourse was seen as "neutral", because the act has no detrimental or beneficial effect on a person's life essence.[13]

In a similar way to Buddhism, Taoist schools sought throughout history to define what would be sexual misconduct. The precept against Sexual Misconduct is sex outside your marriage. The married spouses (夫婦) usually in Chinese suggest male with female, though the scripture itself does not explicitly say anything against same-gender relations.[14][15] Many sorts of precepts mentioned in the Yunji Qiqian (雲笈七籤), The Mini Daoist Canon, does not say anything against same-gender relations, maintaining neutrality.[16]

Opposition to homosexuality in China rose in the medieval Tang Dynasty, being attributed by some writers to the influence of Christian and Islamic values,[17] but did not become fully established until the late Qing Dynasty and the Chinese Republic.[4] There exists a dispute among sinologists as to when negative views of homosexual relationships became prevalent among the general Chinese population, with some scholars arguing that it was common by the time of the Ming Dynasty, established in the 14th century, and others arguing that anti-gay attitudes became entrenched during the Westernization efforts of the late Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China in the 19th and 20th centuries.[4] Although rejection of homosexuality originating in the Tang Dynasty might also suggest Indian influences, given the fact that some Hindu and Buddhist literature disapproved of homosexuality.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

The earliest law against a homosexual act dates from the Song Dynasty, punishing "young males who act as prostitutes." The first statute specifically banning homosexual intercourse was enacted in the Jiajing era of the Ming Dynasty.[25]

Lu Tongyin, author of Misogyny, Cultural Nihilism & Oppositional Politics: Contemporary Chinese Experimental Fiction, said "a clear-cut dichotomy between heterosexuality and homosexuality did not exist in traditional China."[26]

Same-sex relationships in literature

Same-gender love can sometimes be difficult to differentiate in Classical Chinese because the pronouns he and she were not distinguished. And like many East and Southeast Asian languages, Chinese does not have grammatical gender. Thus, poems such as Tang Dynasty poems and other Chinese poetry may be read as either heterosexual or homosexual, or neutral in that regard, depending on the reader's desire.[27] In addition, a good deal of ancient Chinese poetry was written by men in the female voice, or persona.[28] Some may have portrayed semi-sexual relationships between teen-aged girls, before they were pulled apart by marriage. Male poets would use the female narrative voice, as a persona, to lament being abandoned by a male comrade or king.

Another complication in trying to separate heterosexual and homosexual themes in Chinese literature is that for most of Chinese history, writing was restricted to a cultivated elite, amongst whom blatant discussion of sex was considered vulgar. Until adopting European values late in their history, the Chinese did not even have nouns to describe a heterosexual or homosexual person per se. Rather, people who might be directly labeled as such in other traditions would be described by veiled allusions to the actions they enjoyed, or, more often, by referring to a famous example from the past.[29] The most common of these references to homosexuality referenced Dong Xian and Mizi Xia.

The Tang Dynasty "Poetical Essay on the Supreme Joy" is a good example of the allusive nature of Chinese writing on sexuality. This manuscript sought to present the "supreme joy" (sex) in every form known to the author; the chapter on homosexuality comes between chapters on sex in Buddhist monasteries and sex between peasants. It is the earliest surviving manuscript to mention homosexuality, but it does so through phrases such as "cut sleeves in the imperial palace", "countenances of linked jade", and "they were like Lord Long Yang", phrases which would not be recognizable as speaking of sexuality of any kind to someone who was not familiar with the literary tradition.[30]

While these conventions make explicit mentions of homosexuality rare in Chinese literature in comparison to the Greek or Japanese traditions, the allusions which do exist are given an exalted air by their frequent comparison to former Golden Ages and imperial favorites.[31] A Han Dynasty poem describes the official Zhuang Xin making a nervous pass at his lord, Xiang Cheng of Chu. The ruler is nonplussed at first, but Zhuang justifies his suggestion through allusion to a legendary homosexual figure and then recites a poem in that figure's honor. At that, "Lord Xiang Cheng also received Zhuang Xin's hand and promoted him."[32]

A remarkable aspect of traditional Chinese literature is the prominence of same-gender friendship. Bai Juyi is one of many writers who wrote dreamy, lyrical poems to male friends about shared experiences. He and fellow scholar-bureaucrat Yuan Zhen made plans to retire together as Taoist recluses once they had saved enough funds, but Yuan's death kept that dream from being fulfilled.[33] In Water Margin, a Song Dynasty novel, male revolutionary soldiers form deep, long lasting, and arguably romantic friendships.

Other works depict less platonic relationships. A Ming Dynasty rewriting of a very early Zhou Dynasty legend recounts a passionate male relationship between Pan Zhang & Wang Zhongxian which is equated to heterosexual marriage, and which continues even beyond death.[34] The daring 17th century author Li Yu combined tales of passionate love between men with brutal violence and cosmic revenge.[35] Dream of the Red Chamber, one of China's Four Great Classical Novels from the Qing Dynasty, has scenes that depict men engaging in both same-sex and opposite-sex acts.[36]

There is a tradition of clearly erotic literature, which is less known. It is supposed that most such works have been purged in the periodic book burnings that have been a feature of Chinese history. However, isolated manuscripts have survived. Chief among these is the anthology "Bian er chai" (弁而釵; Biàn ér chāi; 'Cap but Pin', or 'A Lady's Pin under a Man's Cap'), a series of four short stories in five chapters each, of passion and seduction. The first short story, Chronicle of a Loyal Love, involves a twenty-year-old academician chasing a fifteen-year-old scholar and a bevy of adolescent valets. In another, "Qing Xia Ji" (情俠記; Qíng xiá jì; 'Record of the Passionate Hero'), the protagonist, Zhang, a valiant soldier with two warrior wives, is seduced by his younger friend Zhong, a remarkable arrangement as it is stereotypically the older man who takes the initiative with a boy. The work appeared in a single edition some time between 1630 and 1640.

More recently, Ding Ling, an author of the 1920s in China, was a prominent and controversial feminist author, and it is generally agreed that she had lesbian (or at least bisexual) content in her stories. Her most famous piece is "Miss Sophia's Diary", a seminal work in the development of a voice for women's sexuality and sexual desire. Additionally, a contemporary author, Wong Bik-Wan, writes from the lesbian perspective in her story "She's a Young Woman and So Am I" (她是女士,我也是女士; Tā shì nǚshì, wǒ yě shì nǚshì). Author Pai Hsien-yung created a sensation by coming out of the closet in Taiwan, and by writing about gay life in Taipei in the 1960s and 70s.[37]

Same-sex love was also celebrated in Chinese art, many examples of which have survived the various traumatic political events in recent Chinese history. Though no large statues are known to still exist, many hand scrolls and paintings on silk can be found in private collections .

Gay, lesbian and queer culture in contemporary mainland China

Gay identities and communities have expanded in China since the 1980s as a result of resurfacing dialogue about and engagement with queer identities in the public domain. Since the 1990s, the preferred term for people of diverse sexuality, sex and gender is tongzhi (). While lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) culture remains largely underground, there are a plethora of gay cruising zones and often unadvertised gay bars, restaurants and discos spread across the country. The recent and escalating proliferation of gay identity in mainland China is most significantly signaled by its recognition in mainstream media despite China's media censorship. There are also many gay websites and LGBT organisations which help organise gay rights' campaigns, AIDS prevention efforts, film festivals and pride parades. Yet public discourse on the issue remains fraught - a product of competing ideologies surrounding the body; the morality of its agency in the public and private arena.[38]

Like in many other western and non-western societies, public sentiment on homosexuality in China sits within a liminal space. While it is not outright condemned, neither is it fully accepted as being part of the social norm. In many instances, those who associate with the queer community also associate with another marginalised group, such as rural-to-urban migrants and sex workers, and therefore the stigma that is attached to aspects of queer identity is often a manifestation of perceived social disobedience against different intersecting vectors of 'moral rights'. As Elaine Jeffreys and Haiqing Yu note in their book, Sex in China, individuals who interact within the queer community do not necessarily identify as being homosexual. 'Money boys', men who provide commercial sexual services to other men, but do not identify as being homosexual, are an example of such a social group. Their minority status is imbued with aspects of criminality and poverty. This suggests that the 'perverseness' attached to homosexuality in mainland China is not purely informed by a biological discourse, but, depending on the circumstances, can also be informed by accepted notions of cultural and social legitimacy.[38]

The influence of Western gay and lesbian culture on China's culture is complex. While Western ideas and conceptions of gayness have begun to permeate the Chinese gay and lesbian identity, some Chinese gay and lesbian activists have pushed back against the mainstream politics of asserting one's own identity and pushing for social change due to its disruption of "family ties and social harmony."[39] Most of the exposure to Western gay and lesbian culture is through the internet or the media, but this exposure is limited—mainstream symbols of gay and lesbian culture (such as the rainbow flag) are not widely recognisable in China.[40]

Justice Anthony Kennedy quoted Confucius in his majority ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges[41] leading to discussion of the ruling on Sina Weibo.[42] Chinese microblogging services also facilitate discourse on things like coming out to parents[43] and articles in the People's Daily on gay men.[44]

Recent occurrences

In 2009, a male couple held a symbolic wedding in public and China Daily took the photo of the two men in a passionate embrace across its pages. Other symbolic gay and lesbian weddings have been held across the country and have been covered positively by the Chinese media.[45]

In 2012, Luo Hongling, a university professor, committed suicide because she knew her husband was a gay man. She alleged their marriage was just a lie since the man could not admit he was gay to his parents. Luo was considered a "homowife", local slang for a woman married to a homosexual male akin to the English term "beard".[46]

In 2016, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television banned images of homosexuals on television.[47]

On April 13, 2018, Sina Weibo, one of China's largest and most popular microblogging platforms, announced a new policy to ban all pieces of contents related to pornography, violence, and homosexuality.[48] According to Weibo, this act was requested by the “Network(Cyber) Security Law.” However, it is unclear which “Network Security Law” Weibo was referring to. In the newest edition of “People's Republic of China Network(Cyber) Security Law” put into effect on June 1, 2017 by the government, media related to pornography is banned, yet the issue of homosexuality is not mentioned.[49] It remains unclear if Weibo's decision reflects its company's own discrimination against the LGBTQ community, or if it foreshadows the government's future policy against this group.

Weibo's announcement led to the anger of China's LGBTQ community as well as many other Chinese citizens. A Weibo user called “Zhu Ding Zhen 竹顶针” made a post, saying, “I am gay, what about you? 我是同性恋,你呢?” This post was read more than 2.4 billion times and shared by about 3 million users, commented by 1.5 million users, and liked by 9.5 million users in less than 3 days.[50] On April 16, Weibo posted another announcement to reverse its previous decision, stating that Weibo would stop banning pieces of contents related to homosexuality and expressed thanks to its users’ “discussions” and “suggestions.”[51][52]

Legal status

Adult, consensual and non-commercial homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, when the national penal code was revised. Homosexuality was removed from the Ministry of Health's list of mental illnesses in 2001 and the public health campaign against HIV/AIDS pandemic does include education for men who have sex with men. Officially, overt police enforcement against gay people is restricted to gay people engaging in sex acts in public or prostitution, which are also illegal for heterosexuals.

However, despite these changes, no civil rights law exists to address discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Households headed by same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt children and do not have the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.

Research conducted by The Chinese Journal of Human Sexuality in 2014 showed that nearly 85 percent of the 921 respondents supported same-sex marriage, while about 2 percent of them oppose the idea, and 13 percent of them said "not sure."[53]

On January 5, 2016, a court in Changsha, southern Hunan province, agreed to hear the lawsuit of 26-year-old Sun Wenlin filed in December 2015 against the Furong district civil affairs bureau for its June 2015 refusal of the right to register to marry his 36-year-old male partner, Hu Mingliang.[54] On April 13, 2016, with hundreds of gay marriage supporters outside, the Changsha court ruled against Sun, who vowed to appeal, citing the importance of his case for LGBT progress in China.[55] On May 17, 2016, Sun and Hu were married in a private ceremony in Changsha, expressing their intention to organize another 99 LGBT weddings across the country in order to normalize gay marriage in China.[56]

Slang in contemporary Chinese gay culture

The following terms are not standard usage; rather, they are colloquial and used within the gay community in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.


Historical people

See LGBT history in China.

Modern people

The following are prominent mainland Chinese and Hong Kong people who have come out to the public or are actively working to improve gay rights in mainland China and Taiwan:

  • Wan Yanhai (signatory on The Yogyakarta Principles and participant of 2009 World Outgames)
  • Leslie Cheung (singer and actor from Hong Kong - died 2003)
  • Li Yinhe (the well known scholar on sexology in China)
  • Cui Zi'en (film director, producer, film scholar, screenwriter, novelist, and associate professor at the Film Research Institute of the Beijing Film Academy)
  • Siu Cho (researcher and political/ social activist in Hong Kong)
  • Raymond Chan Chi-chuen (Hong Kong legislator)
  • Denise Ho (Hong Kong Celebrity/Actor/Singer)
  • Anthony Wong (Hong Kong Singer/Activist)
  • Suzie Wong (Hong Kong TV Host)
  • Elaine Jin (Hong Kong Actor)
  • Gigi Chao (Hong Kong Activist/Heiress to Cheuk Nang Holdings)[57]
  • Vinci Wong (Hong Kong TV Host)
  • Dr Chow Yiu Fai (Hong Kong Lyricist/Activist/Associate Professor of Humanities in Hong Kong Baptist University)[58]
  • Winnie Yu (Hong Kong Radio Host/Ex-CEO of Commercial Radio Hong Kong)
  • Joey Leung (Leung Jo Yiu) (Hong Kong Stage performer)
  • Edward Lam (Lam Yik Wah) (Hong Kong Playwright)[59]
  • Alton Yu (Yu Dik Wai) (Hong Kong Radio Host)
  • Chet Lam (Hong Kong Indie Singer/Song Writer)
  • Ip Kin Ho (aka Gin Ng 健吾) (Author/Radio Host/Journalist/CUHK Lecturer in Hong Kong)

Movies, TV and web series

Many gay movies, TV series and web series have been made in Hong Kong and mainland China, including:

  • Addicted (Heroin) (China, 2016 web series)
  • All About Love (HK)
  • Alternative Love (China, 2016 movie)
  • Amphetamine (HK)
  • Be Here for You (China, 2015 web series)[60]
  • Bishonen (HK)
  • Buffering... (HK)
  • Butterfly (HK)
  • Butterfly Lovers (2005 Stage Act by Denise Ho)
  • CEO and His Man / The Same Kind of Love (China, 2015)
  • Counter Attack: Falling in Love with a Rival (China, 2015 web series)
  • East Palace, West Palace (China)
  • Farewell My Concubine (China)
  • Ghost Boyfriend (China, 2016 movie)
  • Happy Together (HK)
  • He Can (China, 2016 movie)
  • Homosexuality in China (China, 2009 documentary)[61]
  • I Am Not What You Want (HK)
  • Lanyu (China)
  • Like Love (China, 2014 web series)
  • Lost (China, 2013 short film)
  • Love Actually... Sucks! (HK)
  • Love Is More Than A Word (China, 2016 movie)
  • Mama Rainbow (China, 2012 documentary)
  • My Lover and I (China, 2015 web series)
  • No. 10 YanDaiXie Street (China, 2016 web series)
  • Nobody Knows But Me: sequel to Like Love (China, 2015 web series)
  • Oppressive Love/Queer Beauty (China, 2016 movie)
  • Permanent Residence (HK)
  • Portland Street Blues (HK)
  • The Raccoon (China, 2016 movie)
  • Rainbow Family (2015)
  • Revive: Reincarnation of a Superstar (China, 2016 web series)
  • A Round Trip to Love (China, 2016 movie)
  • Speechless (China)
  • Spring Fever (2009)
  • (The Scarlet Dreams of) This Summer (China, 2015 short film)
  • Till Death Tear Us Apart: sequel to Love Is More Than A Word (China, 2016 movie)
  • Tongzhi in Love (documentary film, China/US, 2008)
  • To You, For Me (Macao, 2015 short film)
  • Uncontrolled Love / Force Majeure (China, 2016 movie)
  • Yóuyuán Jīngmèng

In 2015, film-maker Fan Popo sued government censors for pulling his gay documentary Mama Rainbow from online sites.[62] The lawsuit concluded in December 2015 with a finding by Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) had not requested that hosting sites pull the documentary.[63] Despite this ruling, which Fan felt was a victory because it effectively limited state involvement, "the film is still unavailable to see online on Chinese hosting sites."[64]

On December 31, 2015, the China Television Drama Production Industry Association posted new guidelines, including a ban on showing queer relationships on TV. The regulations stated: "No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on."[65] These new regulations have begun to affect web dramas,[66] which have historically had fewer restrictions:

"Chinese Web dramas are commonly deemed as enjoying looser censorship compared with content on TV and the silver screen. They often feature more sexual, violent and other content that is deemed by traditional broadcasters to fall in the no-no area."[67]

In February 2016 the popular Chinese gay web series Addicted (Heroin) was banned from being broadcast online 12 episodes into a 15-episode season. Makers of the series uploaded the remaining episodes on YouTube, and production of a planned second season remains in doubt.[68]

See also



  1. ^ a b Hinsch 1990, p. 56
  2. ^ Passions of the Cut Sleeve: The Male Homosexual Tradition in China by Bret Hinsch; Review by: Frank Dikötter. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 55, No. 1(1992), Cambridge University Press, p. 170
  3. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 35–36
  4. ^ a b c Kang 2009, p. 3
  5. ^ Robert Hans Van Gulik 1961. Sexual life in Ancient China: a preliminary survey of Chinese sex and society from ca. 1500 B.C. till 1644 A.D. Leiden: Brill.
  6. ^ Needham, J: Science and Civilization in China: Sexual Techniques. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, Vol. 2, 1954.
  7. ^ China Decides Homosexuality No Longer Mental Ilness. Associated Press, South China Morning Post, March 08 2001. See http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/55/325.html
  8. ^ "Rohmer-therapy". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 3, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 56
  11. ^ a b "How to speak gay in Shanghai | CNN Travel". travel.cnn.com. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  12. ^ Kang 2009, p. 2
  13. ^ a b Crompton, Louis. Homosexuality and Civilization. Harvard University Press. p. 221
  14. ^ 太上老君戒經 [Supreme Laozi's Scripture]. 正統道藏 [Zhengtong-era Daoist Canon].
  15. ^ Chinese Taoism Association (1994). 道教大辭典 [The Great Dictionary of Taoism]. ISBN 7-5080-0112-5./B.054
  16. ^ 雲笈七籤.說戒部 [Yunji Qiqian. Precepts]. 正統道藏 [Zhengtong-era Daoist Canon]. Volumes 38-40.
  17. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 77-78
  18. ^ Manu Smriti 404 Chapter 8, Verse 370. Text online
  19. ^ Mahanirvana Tantra 12:104
  20. ^ Abhidharmakośa 404
  21. ^ Abhidharma-samuccaya 404
  22. ^ Hurvitz, Leon (1976). Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma(The Lotus Sutra). Columbia University Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0231148955.
  23. ^ harvey, peter (2000). An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 421-. ISBN 9780511800801.
  24. ^ Cutler/Newland The Great Treatise On The Stages Of The Path To Enlightnment p.220
  25. ^ Sommer, Matthew (2000). Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press. p. 413. ISBN 0-8047-3695-2.
  26. ^ Lu 1995, p. 150
  27. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 16-17
  28. ^ Samei, Maija Bell. (2004). Gendered Persona and Poetic Voice: The Abandoned Woman in Early Chinese Song Lyrics. Lexington Books. pp. 1.
  29. ^ Hinsch 1990, p. 7
  30. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 84
  31. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 6
  32. ^ Hinsch 1990, p. 23
  33. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 80-81
  34. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 24-25
  35. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 121-131
  36. ^ Hinsch 1990, pp. 147
  37. ^ Hinsch 1990, p. 163
  38. ^ a b Jeffreys, Elaine; Yu, Haiqing (2015). Sex in China. Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-5613-7.
  39. ^ Ho, Loretta Wing Wah (2010). Gay and Lesbian Subculture in Urban China. Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 0-203-87376-9
  40. ^ Ho 2010, p. 11
  41. ^ "What would Confucius say about same-sex marriage?". Delaware Online Opinion. July 4, 2015.
  42. ^ "US gay marriage ruling divides opinion in China". China Daily. June 29, 2015.
  43. ^ "How young Chinese are coming out to their parents". BBC Trending. July 13, 2015.
  44. ^ "72-Year-Old Chinese Gay Tells His Sad Life Story". People's Daily Online. July 7, 2015.
  45. ^ Harris, Dan. "Homosexuality in China". Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  46. ^ Yang, Chaoqing. "Homowife Chose To Suicide To Blame Her Gay Husband". Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  47. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (March 4, 2016). "China bans depictions of gay people on television". the Guardian.
  48. ^ 1477. 新浪微博:本次游戏动漫清理不再针对同性恋内容--IT--人民网. it.people.com.cn. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  49. ^ 中华人民共和国网络安全法_中国人大网. www.npc.gov.cn. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  50. ^ "Sina Visitor System". weibo.com. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  51. ^ "Sina Visitor System". weibo.com. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  52. ^ "China's microblogging platform Weibo reverses its decision to ban all gay content after online protests". The Verge. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  53. ^ US gay marriage ruling sparks debate in China
  54. ^ "Gay man sues for right to marry in China's first same-sex marriage lawsuit" in South China Morning Post, January 6, 2016, online: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1898421/gay-man-sues-right-marry-chinas-first-same-sex-marriage
  55. ^ "Chinese Court Rules Against Gay Couple Seeking To Get Married".
  56. ^ Tone, Sixth (May 17, 2016). "Gay Couple Vows Wedding to Be First of Many".
  57. ^ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/gigi-chaos-father-makes-an-indecent-proposal/story-e6frg8h6-1226663280154
  58. ^ http://hk.asia-city.com/city-living/article/reality-dykes 500
  59. ^ "Edward Lam Yik-wah". South China Morning Post. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  60. ^ 我和X先生第二季:只為遇見你
  61. ^ Video on YouTube
  62. ^ Rauhala, Emily (September 16, 2015). "This gay rights activist is suing the Chinese censors who banned his film". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  63. ^ "Chinese Gay Activist Claims Victory in Online Film Censorship Lawsuit". WSJ Blogs - China Real Time Report. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  64. ^ Leach, Anna (February 11, 2016). "What is the Chinese media doing right for LGBT people?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  65. ^ "China bans same-sex romance from TV screens". CNN. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  66. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (March 4, 2016). "China bans depictions of gay people on television". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  67. ^ Lin, Lilian (January 21, 2016). "China's Censors Pull More Web Dramas, Including Hit Rom-Com". ChinaRealTime. Wall Street Journal.
  68. ^ Lin, Lilian; Chen, Chang (February 24, 2016). "China's Censors Take Another Gay-Themed Web Drama Offline". ChinaRealTime. Wall Street Journal.


  • Brook, Timothy (1998). The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22154-0.
  • Engebretsen, Elisabeth L.; Schroeder, William F.; Bao, Hongwei, eds. (2015). Queer/Tongzhi China: New Perspectives on Research, Activism and Media Cultures. Gendering Asia. Copenhagen: NIAS Press. ISBN 9788776941550.
  • Hinsch, Bret (1990). Passions of the cut sleeve: the male homosexual tradition in China. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520078697.
  • Kang, Wenqing (2009). Obsession: Male Same-Sex Relations in China, 1900–1950. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789622099814.
  • Lu, Tonglin (1995). Misogyny, Cultural Nihilism & Oppositional Politics: Contemporary Chinese Experimental Fiction. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-2464-7.. Pages 134-140, 151-154.
  • Szonyi, Michael (June 1998). "The Cult of Hu Tianbao and the Eighteenth-Century Discourse of Homosexuality". Late Imperial China. 19 (1): 1–25. doi:10.1353/late.1998.0004.

External links

Crystal Boys

Crystal Boys (孽子, pinyin: Nièzǐ, "sons of sin") is a novel written by author Pai Hsien-yung and first published in 1983 in Taiwan. In 1988, this novel went into circulation in China; its French and English translations were published in 1985 and 1989. A translation into German ("Treffpunkt Lotussee") appeared in 1995.

Nièzǐ means literally "sinful sons" or "sons of sin", but it may also be an allusion to a passage in Mencius in which "friendless officials and concubine's sons" (孤臣孽子) reach positions of power because they have learned to live with a dangerous status.

A movie called Outcasts, based on this novel, was released in 1986. In 2003, the material was adapted by Taiwan Public Television Service Foundation into a miniseries.There is a reference to You Xian Ku in the chapter "Journey to the Goblin Cave".

Cui Zi'en

Cui Zi'en (Chinese: 崔子恩; pinyin: Cuī Zǐ'ēn), born 1958, in Harbin in the People's Republic of China, is a film director, producer, film scholar, screenwriter, novelist and an outspoken LGBT activist based in Beijing. He graduated from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences with an MA in literature and now is an associate professor at the Film Research Institute of the Beijing Film Academy.

Cui Zi'en is one of the avant-garde DV makers in Chinese underground film. He has published nine novels in China and Hong Kong, one of which, Uncle's Past, won the 2001 Radio Literature Award in Germany. In the same year, he founded the Beijing Queer Film Festival, the first LGBT film festival in mainland China. He is also the author of books on criticism and theory, as well as a columnist for magazines.

Cut Sleeve

"Cut Sleeve" (Chinese: 黄九郎; pinyin: Huáng Jiǔláng) is a short story by Pu Songling first published in the third volume of Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio. The story features He Shican, a homosexual studio owner who becomes smitten with Huang Jiulang, a fox spirit, and their subsequent lives as a reborn government official and the lover of another gay official, respectively. "Cut Sleeve" is notable for being a full-length narrative on homosexuality in China; the title alludes to Emperor Ai of Han's same-sex relationship with Dong Xian.

East Palace, West Palace

East Palace, West Palace (Dong gong xi gong) is a 1996 Chinese film directed by Zhang Yuan starring Hu Jun and Si Han and based on a short story by the cult writer Wang Xiaobo. It is also known as Behind the Forbidden City or Behind the Palace Gates.East Palace, West Palace is the first Mainland Chinese movie with an explicitly homosexual theme. The title of the movie derives from the two parks near the Forbidden City — the East Palace and the West Palace. The two parks, specifically their public washrooms, are notorious for being places of congregation for the homosexuals in Beijing during the night.The film was shot in the spring of 1996, when it was smuggled out of China for post-production in France. It premiered at the Mar del Plata Film Festival in Argentina in November 1996 and at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival as part of the Un Certain Regard competition.


Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."Along with bisexuality and heterosexuality, homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual–homosexual continuum. Scientists do not know what determines an individual's sexual orientation, but they theorize that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, and do not view it as a choice. Although no single theory on the cause of sexual orientation has yet gained widespread support, scientists favor biologically-based theories. There is considerably more evidence supporting nonsocial, biological causes of sexual orientation than social ones, especially for males. There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role with regard to sexual orientation. While some people believe that homosexual activity is unnatural, scientific research shows that homosexuality is a normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.The most common terms for homosexual people are lesbian for females and gay for males, but gay also commonly refers to both homosexual females and males. The percentage of people who are gay or lesbian and the proportion of people who are in same-sex romantic relationships or have had same-sex sexual experiences are difficult for researchers to estimate reliably for a variety of reasons, including many gay and lesbian people not openly identifying as such due to prejudice or discrimination such as homophobia and heterosexism. Homosexual behavior has also been documented in many non-human animal species.Many gay and lesbian people are in committed same-sex relationships, though only in the 2010s have census forms and political conditions facilitated their visibility and enumeration. These relationships are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential psychological respects. Homosexual relationships and acts have been admired, as well as condemned, throughout recorded history, depending on the form they took and the culture in which they occurred. Since the end of the 19th century, there has been a global movement towards freedom and equality for gay people, including the introduction of anti-bullying legislation to protect gay children at school, legislation ensuring non-discrimination, equal ability to serve in the military, equal access to health care, equal ability to adopt and parent, and the establishment of marriage equality.

Homosexuality and religion

The relationship between religion and homosexuality has varied greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and denominations, with regard to different forms of homosexuality and bisexuality. Generally speaking as well as by denomination, the present-day doctrines of the world's major religions vary vastly in their attitudes toward these sexual orientations.

Among the religious denominations which generally oppose these orientations, there are many different types of actions which they may take: this can range from quietly discouraging homosexual activity, explicitly forbidding same-sex sexual practices among adherents and actively opposing social acceptance of homosexuality, to execution. Religious fundamentalism has been found to correlate positively with anti-homosexual bias. This is the case with common religiosity too, which typically predicts homophobic attitudes but has also been found to lead to physical antigay hostility, in a lab experiment. Religious opposition to gay adoption was found to be explained by collectivistic values (loyalty, authority, purity) and low flexibility in existential issues, and not by high prosocial inclinations for the weak. Attitudes toward homosexuality have been found to be determined not only by personal religious beliefs, but by the interaction of those beliefs with the predominant national religious context—even for people who are less religious or who do not share their local dominant religious context. Many argue that it is homosexual actions which are sinful, rather than same-sex attraction itself. To this end, some discourage labeling individuals according to sexual orientation. Several organizations exist that assert that conversion therapy can help diminish same-sex attraction.

However, some adherents of many religions view the two sexual orientations positively, and some religious denominations may bless same-sex marriages and support LGBT rights, and the amount of those that do are continuously increasing around the world as much of the developed world enacts laws supporting LGBT rights.

Historically, some cultures and religions accommodated, institutionalized, or revered, same-sex love and sexuality; such mythologies and traditions can be found around the world. The status on homosexuality in Hinduism is ambiguous. Hindu texts contain few specific references to same-sex relations, though some punish it. Ayoni sex which includes oral and anal sex never came to be viewed as much of a sin like in Christianity nor a serious crime and could be practiced in some cases. In 2009, the Hindu Council UK released the statement "Hinduism does not condemn homosexuality". Sikh wedding ceremonies are non-gender specific, and so same-sex marriage is possible within Sikhism.Regardless of their position on homosexuality, many people of faith look to both sacred texts and tradition for guidance on this issue. However, the authority of various traditions or scriptural passages and the correctness of translations and interpretations are continually disputed.

LGBT culture in Beijing

In 2015, Condé Nast Traveler described Beijing's LGBT scene as "under-the-radar yet energized".The city hosts the Beijing Queer Film Festival. Gay bars include Adam's, Destination, Funky, Kai Bar, Red Dog, and The Rabbit; the cocktail bar Más is considered LGBT-friendly. Chill Bar has a monthly lesbian party, and the Beijing Lesbian Center started a lesbian salon in 2004.

LGBT culture in Shanghai

The city of Shanghai, China, has a thriving LGBT community.

Hongwei Bao, author of "Queering/Querying Cosmopolitanism: Queer Spaces in Shanghai," stated that the LGBT community in Shanghai has a more cautious attitude compared to LGBT communities in other Chinese cities. Bao wrote that there is a sense that Shanghai has a culture superior to that of other areas in China and that "Shanghai’s gay identity bears the imprint of this self-identified cultural superiority brought about by their experience with colonialism and capitalism in the twentieth century."

LGBT history in China

The history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in China spans thousands of years. Unlike the histories of European and European-ruled polities in which Christianity formed the core of heavily anti-LGBT laws until recent times, non-heterosexual states of being were historically treated with far less animosity in historic Chinese states. For a period of the modern history of both the Republic of China and People's Republic of China in the 20th century, LGBT people received more stringent legal regulations regarding their orientations, with restrictions being gradually eased by the beginning of the 21st century. However, activism for LGBT rights in both countries has been slow in development due to societal sentiment and government inaction.

LGBT rights in China

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people in China face legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in China since 1997. Additionally, in 2001, homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness. Same-sex couples are unable to marry or adopt, and households headed by such couples are ineligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Homosexuality and homoeroticism in China have been documented since ancient times. According to certain studies by the University of London, homosexuality was regarded as a normal facet of life in China, prior to Western influence from 1840 onwards. Several early Chinese emperors are speculated to have had homosexual relationships accompanied by heterosexual ones. Opposition to homosexuality, according to these same studies, did not become firmly established in China until the 19th and 20th centuries, through the Westernization efforts of the late Qing dynasty and the early Chinese Republic.Homosexuality was largely invisible during the Mao era because homosexuality was pathologised and criminalized. In the 1980s, the subject of homosexuality reemerged in the public domain and gay identities and communities have expanded in the public eye since then. However, the studies note that public discourse in China appears uninterested and, at best, ambivalent about homosexuality, and traditional sentiments on family obligations and discrimination remains a significant factor deterring same-sex attracted people from coming out.With the rapid legalization of same-sex marriage in numerous countries around the world, discussion on the issue has emerged in China. Its approach to LGBT rights and same-sex marriage has been described as "fickle" and as being "no approval; no disapproval; no promotion." Public opinion towards LGBT people is becoming more tolerant. However, there is still much resistance from the authorities, as various LGBT events have been banned in recent years. Børge Bakken, a criminologist at the Australian National University, said in 2018: "President Xi Jinping's regime is very nervous about everything. So they are cracking down on LGBT events, not particularly because these people are gay, but because they see their organising as a potential threat."

LGBT themes in Chinese mythology

Chinese mythology has been described as "rich in stories about homosexuality", reflecting ancient Chinese perspectives toward variance in sexuality and gender, rather than modern views. Chinese myths and traditional folk tales are greatly influenced by religious beliefs, particularly Taoist, Confucian, and Buddhist.

Myths include instances of changing gender and sexual activity between members of the same sex, or between humans and supernatural creatures that assume a form of the same sex.


Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender.

Originally meaning "strange" or "peculiar", queer came to be used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires or relationships in the late 19th century. Beginning in the late 1980s, queer activists, such as the members of Queer Nation, began to reclaim the word as a deliberately provocative and politically radical alternative to the more assimilationist branches of the LGBT community.In the 2000s and on, queer became increasingly used to describe a broad spectrum of non-normative (i.e. anti-heteronormative and anti-homonormative) sexual and gender identities and politics. Academic disciplines such as queer theory and queer studies share a general opposition to binarism, normativity, and a perceived lack of intersectionality, some of them only tangentially connected to the LGBT movement. Queer arts, queer cultural groups, and queer political groups are examples of modern expressions of queer identities.

Critics of the use of the term include members of the LGBT community who associate the term more with its colloquial, derogatory usage, those who wish to dissociate themselves from queer radicalism, and those who see it as amorphous and trendy. The expansion of queer to include queer heterosexuality has been criticized by those who argue that the term can only be reclaimed by those it has been used to oppress.

Queer China

Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China (Chinese: 誌同志; pinyin: zhi tong zhi), directed by Cui Zi’en, is a 2008 independent Chinese documentary about homosexuality in China.

Shanghai Pride

Shanghai Pride (Chinese: 上海骄傲节; pinyin: Shànghǎi jiāo'ào jié) is an annual LGBT pride event that takes place in Shanghai, China. It was first held in 2009 and was significant in that it was first time a mass LGBT event took place in mainland China.

ShanghaiPride is now in its eleventh consecutive year.


Tongqi (同妻) is a Chinese language neologism for women who have married gay men. Liu Dalin, among the first sexologists in Mainland China, estimates that 90% of gay Chinese men marry a heterosexual woman, while in the United States, only 15-20% of gay men do so. Sexologist and sociologist Li Yinhe (李银河) believes there are 20 million male homosexuals in China, 80% of whom marry a woman.

Gay Chinese men are under social pressure to marry and produce a male heir to continue the family line, as Confucianism places a strong emphasis on this.

Tongzhi in Love

Tongzhi in Love is a 2008 30-minute documentary film directed by Ruby Yang which portrays the life of gay men in China. The film was produced by Thomas Lennon and features music by Bill Frisell and Brian Keane. The film's world premiere was at the Silverdocs Film Festival in Washington, D.C. on 18 June 2008 and the West Coast premiere at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on 28 June 2008. (Film was previously known as A Double Life and appears under that title in the Frameline catalog.) "Tongzhi" means "comrade" and has become a slang term for "gay" in several Asian countries. This film was shown at many film festivals and garnered several prestigious awards which include the Golden Gate Award for best documentary short the 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival and the Silver Award at Mix Brasil Festival of Diversity.

Transgender in China

Transgender is an overarching term to describe persons whose gender identity/expression differs from what is typically associated with the gender they were assigned at birth.

"Transgender Studies" was institutionalized as an academic discipline in the 1990s so it is difficult to apply transgender to Chinese culture in a historical context. There were no transgender groups or communities in Hong Kong until after the turn of the century. Today they are still known as a "sexual minority" in China.


Xiaomingxiong (traditional Chinese: 小明雄)(1954-?) is the pen name of Wu XiaoMing (Ng Siuming,吳小明), also known as Samshasha, is a veteran Hong Kong gay right activist and one of the first authors to study the history of homosexuality in China.

Sovereign states
States with
limited recognition
Dependencies and
other territories
Homosexuality in Asia
Sovereign states
States with
limited recognition
Dependencies and
other territories
LGBT in Taiwan
LGBT rights in Taiwan
LGBT Community Centers
Gay villages


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.