On Sept 14, 2016 Vox reported: On Monday, Qiu Bai, a 22-year-old student from the city of Guangzhou, China, took the Chinese Ministry of Education to court in Beijing to demand that it change the way college textbooks talk about homosexuality. Right now, most of them call it a disease.
The trial went mostly as Qiu had expected. A government official said the language in the textbooks did not infringe on her rights as a gay student, and refused to respond directly to her complaints that the textbooks were spreading false— and potentially dangerous — information. The judge announced that she would make a decision “another day” (which generally means in about three months). Then the hearing adjourned.
A few hours later, however, Qiu and her fellow student activists got a surprise. Chinese reporters who had interviewed them earlier in the day called with unpleasant news: The government had ordered them not to cover the case.
“I’m surprised and angry that our work is being censored,” Qiu said in an interview. “Speaking out is not as easy as I thought it would be.”
Qiu’s appearance in court will probably amount to nothing more than a high-profile show trial. The government allowed her to question an Education Ministry official, but doesn’t seem to have any intention of changing its textbooks to make them less hostile to the country’s LGBTQ citizens. She was allowed to question the system, but not to challenge it in any meaningful way.
The government’s handling of the case also serves as a reminder that while Beijing may be slowly liberalizing its hard-line stance toward things like its one-child policy, it still has a long way to go on gay rights. While international attention can sometimes pressure the Chinese government to change social policies, Qiu’s case shows that it can also backfire, causing the government to silence the activist and bar China’s journalists from even writing about their demands.