Metro Weekly

Chinese Citizens Are More LGBTQ-Friendly Than Government

Amid the Chinese Communist Party's crackdown on the LGBTQ community, a Williams Institute report finds pockets of acceptance.

As the authoritarian Chinese government continues to backslide on LGBTQ issues, new polling from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law indicates that Chinese people themselves may be far more accepting. 

The Williams Institute study found that more than half of respondents believed LGBTQ people should be accepted by society, should be treated fairly at work and at school, and should be able to marry.

“Overall, survey respondents agreed with viewpoints that are favorable toward LGBTQ people,” write the report’s authors. “Because we do not have data from a nationally representative sample in mainland China, we cannot know whether our study respondents endorsed more positive views of LGBTQ people compared to the overall Chinese population.

“Nevertheless, our study shows evidence of high approval of LGBTQ rights and protections among a significant segment of the Chinese population. As a consequence, this considerable support for LGBTQ individuals, especially among younger, wealthier, and more educated populations in major urban centers, may impact the trajectory of attitudes towards LGBTQ people in the Chinese population overall.”

Conversely, China’s LGBTQ community has been losing its organizations and events, which is inarguably the result of moves by the country’s oppressive one-party government.

Earlier this year, The Guardian reported extensively on regressive government efforts to diminish the visibility of the country’s LGBTQ community.

“In recent years, China’s LGBTQ+ community has been swept up in the Chinese Communist party’s broader crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression,” reads the January coverage.

“In May 2023, a well-known LGBTQ+ advocacy group in Beijing announced it was closing due to ‘unavoidable’ circumstances. Last February, two university students filed a lawsuit against the education ministry after they were punished for distributing rainbow flags on campus.”

In addition, ShanghaiPride was gutted in 2020, though it manages to hang on to a degree with small events such as community business awards. An LGBTQ center in Chengdu shuttered, and the prominent human-rights group LGBT Rights Advocacy China has closed. 

Associated Press covered the crackdown in 2021, writing, “One LGBT blogger, who also declined to be named out of fear of retribution, said it’s getting increasingly difficult to run an LGBT group in current circumstances, noting that WeChat and other social media platforms are deleting related content.” 

In contrast, neighboring Taiwan has established itself as a beacon of LGBTQ equality in Asia. The Chinese government claims the democratic island nation as its own and has pledged reunification with Taiwan, recently intensifying its military harassment of the country.

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