Court hears suit against MOE over homophobic textbook content

Qiu Bai with gay rights campaigners outside the court in Beijing. Photo:Reuters

A local court in Beijing on Monday heard a suit filed by a gay rights activist against China's Ministry of Education (MOE) over textbooks that describe homosexuality as a "psychological disorder."

Qiu Bai (pseudonym), a student at Sun Yat-sen University in South China's Guangdong Province, previously sued the MOE in Beijing First Intermediate People's Court after the ministry refused her request for an administrative review of the textbooks' content on May 20. She filed the case again in June after her prior suit was rejected by the court.

The hearing lasted just 30 minutes and was attended by only two MOE staff members, without a lawyer, Qiu Bai told the Global Times on Monday.

"I talked about how the textbooks have affected me, but the MOE staffers just keep their heads down," Qiu said, adding that she felt disappointed at their attitude.

"We only want the court to ask the MOE to fulfill its duty of administrative review, instead of avoiding the case," Wang Zhenyu, one of Qiu's attorneys, told the Global Times.

"The MOE still insists that the textbooks involved did not violate my rights, so the ministry does not need to reply, which is groundless, because the MOE has the duty to monitor and administrate the content of textbooks," Qiu said.

The court did not make a pronouncement on Monday.

Qiu said she was optimistic about the result and will continue to sue the MOE until it fixes the content of the textbooks.

Qiu's case has also gained public attention. Several organizations and media involved in LBGT rights advocacy have reported or broadcast the hearing, and many individuals were also present at the courthouse for the hearing to show their support. The hashtag "Qiu Bai PK the MOE" has garnered more than 370,000 clicks on Sina Weibo.

This is the third time that Qiu has sued the MOE over the textbooks' content. She dropped her first case after a meeting with representatives from the ministry since she thought her voice had been heard.

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