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China: Popular Actress Sparks Homosexuality Debate

Homosexuality is not a crime in China and in the past few years the gay community has become more visible in the Chinese online world. Last week, an overseas Chinese pastor's reaction to the legalization of same-sex marriage by the New York State Senate, was echoed by an award-winning actress Lu Liping [zh]. Their words have triggered a heated debate on Chinese social media site, Sina Weibo.

On June 26, 2011 Pastor Feng Wei from Rochester, New York commented [zh] on Sina Weibo:

纽约州议会昨晚通过了同性恋婚姻合法化提案。这是美国第六个通过类似法案的州,也是最大的一个州。求神怜悯这片日益堕落的土地!即使有一天若这里法律规定反对同性恋会被判刑,我也仍然要传讲:同性恋是罪。神爱罪人,但神恨恶罪!信靠耶稣,胜过罪恶,出死入生。

Last night, the New York State Senate legalised same-sex marriage. This is the sixth state in the U.S., and the largest one so far, to do so. May God have mercy on this land which is falling into depravity every day! Even if some day, the law makes it illegal for me to speak against homosexuality, I will continue to preach: Homosexuality is a sin. God loves sinners, but he hates sin! Believe in Jesus, gain victory over your sin, and move from Death to Life. (Note: Translated by Shanghaiist)
Lu Liping

Lu Liping thanking God during her Best Actress speech at the Golden Horse Award in Taipei

As a post on Shanghaiist on June 27 explains, Pastor Feng's post would have little effect in Weibo without actress Lu Liping's call [zh] for her 150,000 followers to support and retweet the post.

 

Gay activists have now called for a boycott of Lu's movies, and a number of actors and film makers have criticized Lu's homophobic comment publicly in Sina Weibo, for example Taiwanese actor, Cai Kangyong [zh] who says:

唉,台湾报纸也开始报导吕丽萍用微博鼓吹仇视同性恋的事了。吕小姐,你仇视的同性恋,并不是受伤不会痛的抽象名词,而是有血有肉的人呀!你此生合作过的剧组,提携过你的媒体,看你戏给你奖的支持者,其中多少同志對你善意成全?不管信什麽教,光从做人最根本的道理来说,鼓吹仇视这许多成全过你的人,可以吗?

Even the Taiwan newspapers are following up Lu Liping's homophobic hate speech in Weibo. Ms Lu, the homosexual people that you hate are not an abstract term that cannot feel the pain, they are people of flesh and blood! Many of them are people whom you work with in the film industry, people who have given you support in the media and people who have recommended you for the [Best Actress at the 2010 Golden Horse Awards]. How many gay friends are supportive and kind to you? No matter what religion you believe in, the basic principle is that you cannot advocate hatred in particular to those who have helped you in your career.

Outside of the entertainment industry circle, a number of public opinion leaders in Weibo have also joined the discussion. Prominent blogger Lian Yue says [zh]:

吕丽萍用圣经攻击同性恋,很多人以其人之身还治其人,引了马太福音这段送给有多次婚姻史的她:“凡休妻的,若不是为淫乱的缘故,就是叫她作淫妇了;人若娶这被休的妇人,也是犯奸淫了。”若死抠圣经字眼,很容易整死他人,有人信基督,对他人行爱与包容,容易让人尊重,若以为有了惩罚权,就可憎了。

Lu Liping uses the Bible to attack homosexuality, many people use the same weapon to criticize her and quote from the Gospel of Matthew to comment upon her divorce history: “That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” If you stick to the exact words from the Bible, many people would be prosecuted. For those who believe in Christ with love and tolerance would be respected, for those who want to take hold of power, would be scorned.

Fiction writer Mai Luoluo points out [zh]:

包容别人,等于同时完善自己。这是上帝赋予我们人性深处,最根本的正见。我不认为同性恋爱有何不正常。米开朗琪罗与自己的同性倾向战斗了一生,最后却是同性恋爱成就了艺术辉煌。他所绘的男性裸体很美很美。

Tolerance for the other would complete oneself. God has planted such human character deep in our heart. I don't think homosexual love is abnormal. Michael Angelo struggled with his sexual orientation his whole life, eventually, his homosexual love has given him the greatest artistic achievement. The nude male bodies that he painted are so beautiful.

Buddhist Monk Shi Zhensheng joins [zh] in the discussion:

佛教不會譴責同性戀是錯的,有罪的,佛教包容同性戀,但也不意味著鼓吹同性戀,只要不標榜,不排擠。佛教教導每一個人都要放下情執,“愛不重,不生娑婆”,這道理對同性、異性戀者而言,都是毫無分別的。佛陀對所有衆生都一視同仁,也知道所人有的煩惱同一出源。他們不一样,但沒有不同,阿彌陀佛!

Buddhism will not condemn homosexuality as a sin, it tolerates homosexuality. However, it doesn't mean that it advocates homosexuality, it just won't uphold it nor reject it. Buddhism teaches every one of us not to be obsessed with love. “When love is not heavy, there is no sorrow,” the same principle is applied to homosexual and heterosexual people with no distinction. The Buddha looks at all living beings as equal and their source of sorrow is the same. They are different but the same, Amitabha.

Nevertheless, homophobic speech is quite common in the Chinese online world, and this debate has triggered quite a number of hateful comments. For example, “1284089530” says [zh]:

现在,同性恋变成了一种时髦,他们大力宣扬同性恋光荣,结果造成了社会上不少青少年纷纷模仿,这样对青少年的成长极为不利,是一种毒害。这样长久下去,男儿将不再阳刚,女性将不再柔美!我的一个小侄子,就被一个同性恋引诱成了同志,强制送到医院发现根本不是!

Today, homosexuality has become a trend. They glorify homosexual love and many young people intimate. This is bad for youth, like poison. In the long run, males will lose their masculinity, women will lose their femininity. I have a cousin who has been seduced by a homosexual and become one. He was forced into a hospital which diagnosed that he is not gay.

Guangzhou Lawyer Ou Zhengbiao opposes [zh] the legalization of homosexuality:

必须旗帜鲜明的反对同性恋合法化!国之将亡、必有妖孽!正因为同性恋有违阴阳平衡的自然规律,有侼人伦道德,因此并不仅仅是社会问题,而且还关系着人类繁衍大事,用某知名网友的话来讲,简直就是反人类的罪行!综上所述,假如同性恋合法化,将标志着人类走向灭亡这个“伟大进程”的正式开始,要不得啊

We have to hold firm our flag and oppose the legalization of homosexuality. When the country is about to die, monsters and spirits will arise. Homosexuality is against Yin and Yang, against natural law and human morality, it is not only a social problem, but something that affects the future of humans. To quote from a famous netizen, this is an anti-human crime! The legalization of homosexuality would bring about the destruction of the human being. We can't allow that to happen.

Nevertheless, several polls show that the majority of netizens accept and supports the choice of homosexual couples. According to a poll from ifeng.com [zh], about 70% of netizens respect the choices of a homosexual minority and about 60% support the legalization of homosexual marriage. The result of this poll is consistent with another Weibo poll in which more than 70% supported the choice of homosexual love and around 15% remain neutral. However, the poll has been deleted today by the Weibo administrator.

Another Weibo poll [zh] (right) with the rather odd phrasing asking, “Would you support your siblings and close friends in becoming homosexual?” has the following result: 20% absolutely oppose; 33% neutral and 46% support.

4 comments

  • Um, not that I enjoy risking heaps of blind self-righteous condemnation, but surely it’s possible for people to dissent from the politically correct, prescribed opinion regarding homosexuality and hold independent views regarding the nature of human sexuality (or the nature of healthy human soceities, for that matter). I can’t believe I feel I even have point this out.

    Is it really fair to automatically label this as “homophobic” and “hate speech”? Maybe these two really do *hate* and *fear* homosexuals — I don’t know — but we can’t know that from their quoted comments.

    However what *is* plainly prejudiced, bigoted, often hateful and completely closeminded is the ignorant belief that if someone disagrees with homosexuality in any way whatsover, they must therefore necessarily be “homophobic” and “bigoted”, and any speech that fails to celebrate and affirm homosexuality is necessarily “hate speech.” There are plenty of people personally comfortable with homosexuals and homosexuality but who disagree with the prescribed view for all kinds of reasons.

    • kim

      Yes, I absolutely agree! Whether it’s climate change, homosexuality, or any popular topic, if you don’t support it, people feel that it’s ok to condemn you! What kind of tolerance is that? Everyone should practise what they preach, including people who want “tolerance and acceptance”. If they’re not tolerant of others who disagree with them, they’ve defeated their own words. They’re not being tolerant, they’re being dictatorial and bigoted themselves….

  • It is understandable why it is difficult for some Chinese people to accept homosexuality. It means that one needs to be open minded and accepting towards others. In China, since social rules have always been very clear, it is hard to accept new phenomena.

    http://laowaiblog.com

  • Greg

    It’s such a shame to hear that Christian homophobia from the US is seeping into China as well. But it’s encouraging to hear the intelligent reactions. Many Christians use the Bible as a weapon to beat down others and steal their personal choices.

    Forbidding people who want to marry from doing so and calling those who love each other abominations is entirely out of character with the tales of how Jesus behaved with people. It is, however, ENTIRELY consistent with the behaviour of the Pharisees and Sadducees whom Jesus did condemn for using religion for their own purposes.

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