Few 'comrades' or 'tongzhi'—slang for homosexual—live openly due to social/cultural pressures and lack of awareness.
"On the mainland, being homosexual is still very hard," one man told China Daily. "Under pressure from families and society, most homosexual people dare not reveal their sexual orientation and have to get married to someone of the opposite sex.
However, the producers of the new Internet TV show, "Tongxing Xianglian," or "Connecting Homosexuals," hope to change public perception of Chinese gays, according to an AP report. The show describes itself as the country's first show to focus on gay issues with the nation's first openly gay host, Didier Zheng.
The formal Chinese word for homosexual is 'tongxinglian.'
Gay Rights in China:
The Chinese government's attitude and treatment of gays has steadily increased since the persecution of gays during the Cultural Revolution. Sodomy was decriminalized in 1997 and the Chinese Psychiatric Association stopped listing homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001.
Government Support for Gays:
In response to record new HIV infections in China, the government has launched several support and awareness campaigns. In May of 2006, a national hotline was launched in both Guangzhou and Shanghai and the "Forum for Comrades" was launched in August 2006 with little success.
All media outlets are heavily censored by the Chinese government, which may contribute to the low number of citizens taking advantage of these national services.
Gay Marriage in China:
Previous proposals to legalize gay unions have been unsuccessfully submitted to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's political advisory board. This implies that same-sex marriage is not legal in China. However, unlike gay adoption, the Chinese government does not explicitly state whether same-sex marriage is legal or not. (Also see: Gay Marriage Around the World)
Gay Adoption in China:
The Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China does not allow adoption by same-sex couples. (Also see: Gay Adoption in the U.S.)
HIV in China:
China is seeing record numbers of new HIV infections and gay Chinese are seen as a high-risk population. For a description of the HIV epidemic in China, read the in-depth report HIV Around the World - China.