People in China are now showing a greater acceptance of gay people with 59 percent of Chinese people saying society should accept gay people, according to a recent survey on the local LGBT community.
The first annual survey on the social acceptance of LGBT people by the Shanghai LGBT Professionals and Work for LGBT and Parents,
Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays shows 59 percent of 2,400 city residents polled said they are tolerant toward same-sex attracted people and that society should accept gay people. Twenty-one percent even admitted to personally knowing gay people.
Those polled online and through mobile devices were from Shanghai and over 18 years of age.
Gay rights activist Ah Qiang told the Global Times that the survey showed that gay people can win more social acceptance by coming out and appealed “to the large number of gay people who are still hiding to come out for the public to better understand the group."
They survey showed that 40 percent of respondents supported marriage between same-sex couples and that only 19 percent opposed it. Forty percent of those polled said they remained neutral on the issue.
Regarding equal employment opportunities, 80 percent were in favor, and only 5 percent in opposition.
Ah Qiang pointed out that the survey was city based and that if villages were included the results might show a lower level of acceptance for LGBT people.
Nonetheless, Zhang Beichuan, a scholar on same-sex relations, told the Global Times that the survey showed that Chinese society has over the past 20 years made great progress in accepting gay people even though many still lack an understanding of the LGBT community.
Zhang also said most Chinese people may accept gay people in society but would remain opposed to having gay family members.
Chinese LGBT members are often prone to adverse publicity because of the high incidence of gay people with HIV/AIDS. A recent report for example showed that 64.8 of the more than 7,000 students in China who were diagnosed with HIV had contracted the virus through same-sex relations.
Many gay people are also in the news for failed marriages with those of the opposite sex which many contract to avoid pressure from parents and to keep the fact that they are gay a secret.
This is because of the deeply held Chinese belief that children are required to marry and bear offspring to continue the family line.
It is estimated that about 90 percent of gay men in China marry women and that there are nearly 10 million Chinese couples in such marriages.
China legalized consensual adult same-sex relations in 1997 and removed “homosexuality” from an official list of psychiatric diseases in 2001. Marriage among same-sex couples is not legal.