Gay, Lesbian and HIV Grassroots Growing in China

Increased awareness is breaking down the stigma of HIV/AIDS treatment in China. This year, the country will host its first ‘AIDS Walk,’ which will include a trek along the Great Wall.

There are officially 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in China, but stigma and discrimination means that people are afraid to get tested. Anyone taking an HIV test at an official disease control center must give their ID number.

But international bodies like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are backing grassroots groups such as one run by gay man Nan Feng in the sprawling city of Chongqing, which also offers testing as part of its AIDS prevention work.

According to Zhang Beichuan, a Chinese AIDS expert, there are now more than 200 such non-governmental groups in China.

Nan launched a gay website in 1998. Three years later, a local newspaper interviewed him on his AIDS-prevention work.

After the interview was published, Nan’s colleagues surreptitiously put the full-page newspaper report about him unfolded on his desk.

“The people around me had the common prejudice that all gays have AIDS,” he tells Xinhuanet.

He quit his job and Landian starting distributing condoms at gay bars and promoting the website.

Landian was established in the provincial capital of Taiyuan in 2006 and has provided free and private HIV tests for more than 450 gay males and their family members since September 2010.

With the help of Landian, volunteer groups were set up in another five cities in the province of Shanxi last year.

The number of volunteers is also growing as the public has become more tolerant to the gay community, according to the group.

Last month, HIV/AIDS prevention posters appeared on the streets in Beijing, to the surprise of many. The posters had previously only been seen inside gay bars.

The AIDS Walk first took place in Los Angeles in 1985 to raise awareness of the epidemic, and later this year it will happen in China for the first time. It is being organized by three non-profit organizations, including the government-backed China Population Welfare Foundation, and has been approved by Chinese authorities.

As well as the support for grassroots gay groups, Global Fund for Women is backing a lesbian group, Lala Alliance, which has grown to have hundreds of members.

The group has organized several activist training camps and published Chinaís first lesbian oral history.

In another example of positive change, last month the first China Rainbow Media Awards were handed out, recognizing positive representations of LGBT people in China’s mainstream media.

The organizers invited an elderly gay man nicknamed ‘Old Paris’ to present the Special Contribution Award to Dr. Li Yinhe, a well-known sociologist who has spoken out many times on homosexuality and who submitted several proposals to legalize same-sex marriage.

‘Old Paris’, who is 72 years old, was jailed three times under the Ďhooliganismí provision. Today he lives a quiet life together with his boyfriend. Awards organizers quote him saying:

Although I went to prison several times, I never felt that I was wrong. I never stole anything, I never robbed anyone, and I never did anything that was wrong.

Expressing his sincere gratitude towards Li Yinhe, he said:

Iíve lived for more than 70 years and at this moment Iím the happiest Iíve ever been. Thatís all because of the tireless work Li Yinhe and others have been doing for all these years.


Related articles

2011 International LGBT Roundup: The Growth of International Projects

The ‘Broken Promises’ by Rich Countries on HIV/AIDS (Video)

Obama on AIDS: ‘We Can Beat This Disease’

Picture source ILGA

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SeattleAnn S.
Ann S.3 years ago

Great, China is moving in the right direction as we are also attempting to.

Meta R.
Meta Reid3 years ago

Glad to hear of China's progress, everyone in the world will benefit from people in China getting healthier physically and psychologically. I note with regret, however, the PastMember, who has not yet learned compassion or gained understanding of the world.

Martin Austin
Past Member 3 years ago

lets hope they start to treat animals better also

adriana j.
adriana j.3 years ago

awesomeness! go China!

Kristina C.
Kristina C.3 years ago

I stuill crinch if I hear the words, gay, lesbian and HIV in one sentence. We should be over that - a long time ago - after all the majority of HIV/Aids infections globally are among straight people!
But bravo to China's baby steps.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers3 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Katherine Head
Katherine Head3 years ago

Thanks for sharing this. This is great news.

Past Member
Past Member 3 years ago

whats with all the pro gay stuff everytime I look at my emails?? LBGT??what the hell is that? call it what it is; women with too many male hormones (lezzos) and men with too many female hormones (poofs) its not hard people, go to your doctors and ask for hormones THAT YOU ARE LACKING!!!!!!

Dan(iel) M.
Dan(iel) M.3 years ago

Thanks for posting Paul. Education is the key to defeating ignorance.

Whitney Larsen
Whitney Larsen3 years ago

Good to hear of the great people over there informing people and raising awarness! People shouldn't have to live in a place where they are afraid to seek medical attention because of stigmas and discrimination.