• 2012-2013 Winner: “A Defense of the Legalization of Homosexuality in China” by Junmeng Zhu

    Date: 2013.12.17 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    A Defense of the Legalization of Homosexuality in China

    Homosexuality was accepted in Chinese history and major Chinese literature. However, there has never been a time like now when this complex issue is exposed to the society directly, igniting controversial debate. Since there were considerable and various historic, social, governmental, cultural causes, the issue is now becoming really complex. Some people detest gay people violently because they think homosexuality is a mental disease, which is a misunderstanding. Except for those who totally cannot accept it, interestingly, most Chinese people take a position of acceptance but do no support of legalization. Importantly, it is the traditional culture of “family” that makes people so anxious when talking about homosexuality. However, with the research on homosexuality having gone on in China, it is now the time to make it possible to legalize homosexuality in China. Although it must be admitted that China is lacking for several conditions to establish a complete law system for homosexual community, homosexuality should still be legalized in China for four reasons. First, since homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality, it should be protected by statute laws like heterosexual relationships are. Also, it should be legalized for the responsibility on the heritage of the valuable Chinese traditional institution: respect and acceptance, which is even more important today.  Third, legalization is needed because of the uptrend of visible homosexuals and their urgent needs of legal protection. Lastly, there will be considerable benefits gained from the legalization of homosexuality.

    In order to understand the problem of legalization of homosexuality in China, it is important to address the context of the debate first. Basically, there are two main reasons why Chinese society is against homosexuality. First of all, the misunderstanding of homosexuality is a problem in China when achieving the legalization of homosexuality. Though there are many scholars who concentrate on research of homosexuality in China now and they are showing efforts to make the Chinese public notice and admit the existence of homos, it is still really hard for the whole society in China to actually know them. Some Chinese still have the impression that homosexuals are abnormal. Certain amounts of people think homosexuality is a kind of mental disease or disorder. Some even think homosexuality can be “cured” by some medical treatments. This misunderstanding is a pity, in that it shows that even though China has become the second economically strong country, its humanistic construction is still incomplete. The mistaken impression of the LGBT community is difficult to change because of the absence of mainstream media, such as newspaper, TV programs, and radio in the homosexual issue and the absence is from the ambiguous position of Chinese government. A solution to solve this problem is to let media have legislative evidence to make their argument, not always ignoring this issue. Thus, the legalization of homosexuality is really important and the Chinese government should start doing this. It is natural to be homosexual. The idea that homosexuality is abnormal should never become a reason why some people are against it.

    Second, the influences of ethical and philosophical systems have blocked the legalization process in China. In America, a great number of people who are offended by homosexuality are influenced by their religious beliefs, which built their moral rules toward many issues. However, since China is not a country with a particularly or historically homophobic culture, the most influential view that blocks the society’s moral permittivity of homosexuality is the strong conviction of family meaning parents and children.  The deep conviction about family is a result of the culture of Confucianism that dominated Chinese official and mainstream values in the long history from Han Dynasty to Qing Dynasty. In one of the representative works of Confucianism Daxue(The Great Learning), the family is put on the second place in the process of achieving a man’s political dream just after a series of steps to refine onself (修身齐家治国平天下) (Indiana University, Early Chinese Thought, 3). The influence of Confucianism is so profound. In the article China The Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide , there is a true statement about the current Chinese social situation: “ The institution of marriage is so deeply rootead in China that sometimes marriage becomes a public matter instead of a private matter: parents worry about it; neighbors talk about it; colleagues offer suggestions, and everyone looks for different ways to be helpful.”  (Steward 361)You can imagine, for homosexual people, how high the pressure is. To contrast the idea of ,“family”, the purpose of a partnership is not only procreation, but also the exclusive commitment with your partners. Can’t homosexual people form a normal family? The answer is yes, and to achieve this, the admission of their relationships in law is necessary. They can have a family with a commitment from two partners, and they can have children. Some people are worried about the risk of raising a child for homosexual couples. However, they do not need to and an example proving this is given. There is a popular speech video on supporting the legalization of same sex marriage in Iowa State on weibo (Chinese micro blog).    It was delivered by an excellent student Zach Wahls at University of Iowa who was raised by a lesbian couple. He states, “my family isn’t actually different from yours. Not once have I been confronted by an individual who realized independently I was raised by a gay couple because the sexual orientation of my parents has zero impact on the content of my character.” Homosexual couples have the ability of raise a child as usual and the fact that they are gay does not influence their children to be gay. Consequently, a responsible government should offer the legislation on homosexual partners’ relationship in order to provide them with a chance to form a real family.

    Furthermore, there are several main reasons defending the legalization of homosexuality. First of all, homosexual love is also from human nature. Homosexual people will meet someone in some situation. They will get to know each other. They will feel a passionate sentiment toward the right person, and then form the thought in their mind to spend the whole life with that person who has the same gender. However, the love is the same as heterosexual one. Love is just love, without reference to genders. Dr. Michael J. Sandel, best known as the Professor of an online Harvard course named “Justice,” affirms that “the love of humanity is a noble sentiment.” Love is one of the most wonderful things in the world making generations of people expect it since the start of history. Since marriage is an institution that honors, recognizes and protects love, if love is present, it should be legally protected in the form of marriage. Thus, the legislations should protect homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally.

    What’s more, it is special that in Chinese history, the acceptance of homosexuality is greater than in Capitalist countries. This is mainly because China does not have a religion that opposes homosexuality. Referring to many historic records and literature in different historic time in China, there are a number of instances of homosexuality that are accepted by people centuries ago when China was still an autocratic country. For example, recorded in the great work of Bangu, a famous historian in Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), one day the emperor Ai (reigned 6 BCE–1 CE) woke up next to his favorite same sex partner Dong Xian. The emperor got up, however his sleeve was pinned by Dong. The emperor thought he could not wake his favorite up. So he cut his sleeve to go. The term “断袖”(cut sleeve) then refers to homosexuality in China. These relationships were not only accepted but also recorded as admirable stories. Since ancient time, Chinese people have had the institution of respect and acceptance. What Chinese should do is to preserve the good institution. Since China is in a much more developed society than ever before and since the role of legislation is a symbol of a well-developed country, China should agree to legalize homosexuality.

    In addition, there is an urgent need for the legalization of homosexual relationships because of an uptrend of visible homosexual people and a society that still has discrimination against gay people in many areas. The internet plays a significant role in the campaign of queer people. The internet offers a place to let homosexual people be visible in a relatively private and safe way. The internet is so powerful a place that homosexual issues are discussed. There are websites for gay people to gather, there are blogs defending the legalization of homosexuality, and there are homosexual couples telling their stories. With the increasing number of visible homosexuals, homosexuality is no longer so minor that the whole society and the government do not realize it. The formation of the new term “出柜” particular for homosexuals means the visible trend that homosexual people are braver than ever and they tend to tell their family and friends about their sexual orientation someday in a more proper way.  Also, Youjian Wu who is a mother of a gay and now an activist who helps gay people “出柜” in a proper way is evidence that there is a need of some kind of recognition or help from homosexual people. They strive for equal rights. The reason why there is an urgent need is also because the visible homosexual people are under discrimination. So far, in China, there is no such discrimination to death like Americans did in the history. However, if you are gay, you will be under the risk of losing your job, the situation of losing your, “friends”, and the possibility of a break out from your nuclear family. Those are things that are more severe than physical abuse. To achieve a peaceful social condition without fear for them,having a clear legislation of the admission of homosexuality is necessary. Though at first the legislation may not totally prohibit those abuses, the law at least can be a proof when their rights are abused and when they are unequally treated.

    More importantly, the legalization of homosexuality brings many benefits to homosexual people and to family relations. First, it can contribute to reduce health problems, mainly HIV\AIDS for gay people. Yinhe Li, one of Chinese most famous sociologists and sexologists states in her blog that more than 40% of HIV was transmitted by heterosexual contacts and only 5% was transmitted by homosexual contacts in China. However, the problem is that 5% is higher than the proportion of homosexuals in the society. With the limited permittivity and without the guarantee of legislative authority, gay people cannot find their stable partner. Suppose homosexual relationships and gay people’s rights are protected by law like heterosexual relations. If they need to perform responsibility to their partner and if their rights are protected, they would like to keep a stable relationship too. In addition, with the legalization of homosexuality, gay people will tend to be more visible, so that there will not be tragedies that the heterosexual partner of homosexual people find out their partner is homosexual after they have married each other. These heterosexual partners are innocent, but they must undergo the miserable experience because their partners do not have the right to declare their sexual orientation under high pressure from family or the society. According to the two benefits, Chinese government should enact a statute for homosexuality.

    Though there are ideas both for and against the legalization of homosexuality all over the world, there are certain people think that government should get out of the business of any kind of relationship or marriage no matter whether it is heterosexual or homosexual because, they think, government can never represent every single person in the society and the government does not have any rights to impose a general idea to its citizens. However, the recognition of a relationship needs to be completed by governmental law since a marriage or a legal relationship is not only a personal choice but also a social recognition and honor. It is true that family is about a core value of your own family, but since we live in a society together with other people, the acceptance and the others’ blessings become important. Especially in China, governmental decisions have more meaning than American ones under the special situation of Chinese democracy. Hence, it also becomes much harder to let the government respond to these complicating and contested issues. Thus, recognition of the government in China is pretty important for homosexuals. They need the legal support to define their social position in Chinese society.

    There is some homosexual people share or talk about their experience online in some groups where the supporters of them will also go to.  There is a desperate situation that when there is a boy saying that he happens to like a boy. Most of the responds are saying “decide after think it over. The way is so hard to go. ” These comments are from those supporters. Can you tell how sad this is? Even the supporters are not confident about the future of the homosexual people and they are subconsciously persuading the people to abandon their love towards the same gender. In reality, the situation reflects the famous Chinese saying: “We are like the fishes living in the dark, deep sea where no one can get close to us so that we can protect ourselves.” If the society cannot rationally accept homosexuality, hopefully, legalization of homosexuality can promise them a better future. Under the complicated social situation on the issue of homosexuality, a more realistic suggestion is to enact some minor statutes referring to homosexuality and gradually enlarge the content of them.

    Work Cited

    China. Hongwei Bao. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide. Ed. Chuck Stewart. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, 2010. p355-373. Word Count: 9868

    Zach Wahls. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/zach-wahls-iowa-student-with-two-moms-discusses-life-post-viral-success-video/2011/12/01/gIQAaUrsGO_blog.html January 31, 2011

    Michael J. Sandel http://www.justiceharvard.org/2011/02/episode-12/#watch

    Yinhe Li.同性恋与艾滋病(Homosexuality and AIDS)2012-11-30 http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_473d53360102eqfm.html. Blog. Web.

    Indiana University, Early Chinese Thought [B/E/P374] – Fall 2010 (R. Eno)