A gay kindergarten teacher in China is suing his former school after being fired last month, allegedly for his sexual orientation, Reuters reported Friday.
The teacher, who identified himself as “Ming Jue,” was fired from a school in the coastal city of Qingdao after making comments on social media about an LGBT event he attended.
He said that after Chinese censors flagged the post, the school told him he could not continue in the job because some parents may not approve of the fact he was gay, a reality that gave him “grave apprehension” that parents wished to discriminate against people of a different sexual orientation.
“The kindergarten’s owner said I had publicly announced that I was gay, which went against the kindergarten’s philosophy,” Ming said. “I told him that was illegal and I would sue. I hope that I can use this case to push forward Chinese society to be more balanced and accepting.”
“I love my job. I never imagined I would one day lose it because of my sexual identity, much less because of a parent’s complaint over it,” he continued. “Some parents even said they would have to take their children to the hospital for health check-ups after having interacted with me. That pained me the most.”
The man’s lawyer Tang Xiangqian maintained his client had been fired with insufficient severance pay and had not been compensated for his ten-percent stake in the school.
“The main reason we filed this case is not just as a labor dispute but to make the gay community more visible to a wider group of people. To let more people realize that they can easily be victims of discrimination,” Tang said.
Despite the country’s generally appalling human rights record, China has not uniformly cracked down on LGBT people. Labor laws still providing basic protections on discrimination against minority groups. The government legalized LGBT sexual identity in 1997, although cases of “gay conversion therapy” enforced under the rule of Mao Zedong still exist.
As previously noted by Børge Bakken, a criminologist at the Australian National University, the Chinese Communist Party does fear the rise of an LGBT in the same way it fears all organized political movements.
“President Xi Jinping’s regime is very nervous about everything,” he told AFP in June. “So they are cracking down on LGBT events, not particularly because these people are gay, but because they see their organizing as a potential threat.”
Last June, the Chinese propaganda outlet Global Times warned people of the risks danmei, a majority female-written genre of online gay fiction as part of their wider crackdown on “vulgar” content. According to the Times, all works of fiction should “reflect core socialist values and abide by moral norms,” and citizens will now be awarded digital currency in return for reporting such misdemeanors.
In April, the Chinese social media platform Weibo, essentially the Chinese version of Twitter, abandoned a major “clean-up campaign” intended to remove “pornographic, violent, or gay subject matter” after thousands gay users a protest hashtag #ImGay.