In what is believed to be the first of its kind, ChinaPost.com.tw is reporting that a man, known pseudonymously as Mu Yi, has filed a 50,000 yuan (US$8,000) gay discrimination lawsuit against a former employer after a video he was in went viral revealing his sexual orientation. “We’re very optimistic,” Liu Xiaohu, a lawyer for the plaintiff, told Agency France Presse (AFP), adding that the case “will definitely have an impact” on views of gay rights in China.
Mu, who is gay, was filmed by police in October arguing with another gay man on a Shenzhen street. The video went viral soon after it was posted online, with some users making their own videos playing on a speech made by the other participant in the dispute, who was wearing a “little red hat.” A week later, Mu was fired from his job as a designer.
Currently, there are no workplace protections for the Chinese LGBT community. Furthermore, despite growing acceptance in the larger metropolitan cities, this still deeply conservative nation frowns upon homosexuality.
For their part, the employer, who was not identified in the report, maintains that Mu’s firing was not linked to his sexual orientation, and says it dismissed him for reasons including his “poor service attitude” and improper attire.
In a study in 2010 by Tom Mountford entitled, “China: The Legal Position and Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the People’s Republic of China,” he noted that: “the Chinese government has remained largely silent on the issue of homosexuality. That silence has had two main effects. First, it has stalled any further developments in removing legal discrimination against LGBT people in China. Secondly, it means that the legal status and position of LGBT people is unclear, with varying official treatment across different parts of China.”
The ‘Little Red Hat’ case is expected to be decided in the next three months and could have enormous repercussions.