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Shanghai University to Offer China’s First Program In Gay Culture

Shanghai University to Offer China’s First Program In Gay Culture

A university in Shanghai is offering China’s first class on homosexuality and gay culture, and several hundred students have applied for the 100 openings, says a professor in charge of the course.

Dr. Sun Zhongxin, one of the course’s instructors at prestigious Fudan University, says its introduction resulted from strong interest among undergraduates.

“I used to teach gender study for undergraduates and found they were very interested in the topic of homosexuality,” Sun says. The class is full but “more students are still applying.”

The course aims to break down widespread ignorance and prejudice against gays in China, another instructor, Gao Yanning, was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Daily newspaper.

“We will pay more attention on how to have a proper view about homosexuals,” Gao was quoted as saying by the paper. “We will give students an equitable judgment on homosexuals and help eliminate students’ discrimination.”

Gays were strongly persecuted after China’s 1949 communist revolution, condemned as products of decadent Western and feudal societies. Puritanical official attitudes have gradually changed since the late 1980s, and in 2001, the China Psychiatric Association ceased listing homosexuality as a mental illness.

Looser enforcement of laws on homosexual behavior has allowed small but thriving gay scenes to emerge in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities. Yet, given the strong cultural disdain of homosexuality, gay men and women in China still tend to hide their sexual orientation.

While reports of violence against gays are rare, discrimination by family members and co-workers remains strong and Communist Party officials have ruled out legislation outlawing such unfair treatment.

The Fudan course follows an earlier graduate course on gay health issues that focussed mainly on AIDS prevention. About 2,000 students have taken the earlier course since it was launched in 2003,
Sun said.

— Associated Press

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