In 2001, the Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality and bisexuality from the list of illnesses in its diagnostic manual, the “Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders.” This came after China decriminalized consensual homosexual acts in 1997.
So Chen Qiuyan, 20, a communications student at Sun Yat-sen University in the southern city of Guangzhou, said she was shocked last year to discover textbooks in the college library that continued to define homosexuality as a sickness. In one psychology text, published in 2013, she read: “Sexual orientation disorder is a sexual psychological disorder that involves being sexually attracted to abnormal objects. It includes pedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia and homosexuality.”
At the time, Ms. Chen was trying to determine whether she was a lesbian. Concerned that online information might be unreliable, she sought out academic sources in the library. But what she found only deepened her identity crisis.
“I thought textbooks must be authoritative,” Ms. Chen said by telephone from Guangzhou. “After reading them, I was terrified. I was even more afraid to admit that I’m gay.”
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