The Humiliating LGBT Experience in the Chinese Workplace: An Infographic

The country's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered workers must navigate an environment of fear, suspicion, and mistrust.
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People with gay pride flags take part in a gay pride parade in Hong Kong. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

Tolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals appears to be rising in China, at least among the digital generations. A February 2013 poll of users on Sina Weibo showed a majority favoring an amendment to China’s Marriage Law to allow for same-sex marriage.

But LGBT individuals in China still face a long road to acceptance, and over 90 percent of Chinese LGBT individuals who filled out a recent survey said they choose to conceal their sexual identity at work. The survey, “China Sexual Minorities Professional Environment Survey," was conducted by a coalition of China’s most active grassroots LGBT organizations. Over half of respondents say they have experienced harassment in the office, and workplace tolerance toward gay men at state-owned enterprises appears particularly low.

The charts below were published in May 2013 by the Aibai Culture and Education Center, a grassroots NGO based in Beijing, which released the results in a publication called “A Report on the Employment Environment for Chinese LGBT Employees.” The report is based on 2,161 completed questionnaires. Respondents included 1,371 men and 790 women, of which 1,856 identify as gay and lesbians and 305 as bisexual. Tabitha Speelman translates the findings below. ChinaFile’s David Barreda has adapted the image for English.

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How many of China’s LGBT individuals feel comfortable coming out to their colleagues? What kinds of harassment do “comrades” (Chinese slang for “gay”) face in the workplace? What are the consequences of anti-LGBT discrimination for employers?


This post first appeared at Tea Leaf Nation, an Atlantic partner site.

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Tabitha Speelman is a graduate student in Chinese Studies at Leiden University.

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