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China's gays, bisexuals face workplace discrimination


10:28, May 18, 2013

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Zhao Xin, a gay man in east China's Jiangxi Province, knows that if he stays at any company for long, his co-workers are sure to ask about his girlfriend.

"It has driven me crazy that my colleagues would be so fixated on questions like, 'Why you don't have a girlfriend?' I can't stop them, unless I admit I'm gay," said Zhao, who preferred that his real name not be used.

However, Zhao seems to prefer switching jobs than coming out to people at his company, which is based in the provincial capital Nanchang.

"I'll not ask for trouble. I don't want my peers to look at me in a different light, and all the pressure and stigmas of being gay," he said.

The man's concerns were reinforced by a report released Friday, the International Day Against Homophobia.

The report published by Aibai Culture and Education Center concludes that gays and bisexuals in China face widespread discrimination from their employers and peers, which discourages them from being open about their sexual orientation in the workplace.

The report shows that 47 percent of 2,161 respondents to a survey keep their sexual orientation a complete secret at the office, while just 6 percent are open about their orientation. The remainder said they have revealed their sexual orientation to some colleagues.

Established in 1999, Aibai is a Chinese non-profit organization dedicated to promoting equal rights for those in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

Nearly half of the respondents said they are racking their brains for ways to avoid revealing their sexual orientation in the workplace, according to the report, which was based on a three-month survey of gays and bisexuals aged 16 and 59 from 17 provinces and municipalities.

It said that some of the key factors leading gay and bisexual employees to conceal their orientation are concerns about office gossip, as well as the potential impact that revealing their orientation could have on their relationships with their peers and their own career development.

The survey also found that 38 percent of respondents have been subjected to offensive language or teasing due to their sexual orientation, while 30 percent said they did not receive due respect at work. In addition, about 270 respondents said they believe that they have missed out on promotions due to their sexual orientation.

Some 20 percent of respondents have resigned or are considering resigning due to pressure and discrimination at work.

The report also revealed that gays and bisexuals in state-owned enterprises and government sectors are under more pressure than their counterparts in private local businesses and multinational companies.

"It's no good to be viewed as an oddball by government staff, who are among the most conservative Chinese people, especially my bosses many years my senior," said Zhu Jin, a civil servant in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Zhu also requested that a pseudonym be used.

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