Global Human Rights Defence

LGBT in China
Source: AFP/Getty Images

As the country with the largest population China is also home to the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population. Until a decade ago, the LGBT population was an invisible and hidden population in Chinese society. However, despite the fact that in 1997 a legal prosecution was repealed, discrimination against the LGBT people still exists. These people in the People’s Republic of China face legal and social challenges that are not experienced by non-LGBT residents.

Actions taken by the Chinese government to combat the discrimination towards the LGBTQ

Since 1949, homosexuality has been banned and suppressed in China. Being in a relationship with a same-sex individual was criminalized under the law of ‘hooliganism’. 

However, in the early 1980s, China’s reforms and opening-up policies set in motion social and cultural changes that would lead Beijing to decriminalize homosexuality in 1997 and remove it from an official list of mental disorders in 2001. Moreover, for those who changed their gender with the help of surgery, it is now possible to officially change the gender in their identity card and passport. 

China has taken an initiative towards allowing same-sex marriage, a move that could end years of discrimination, make the LGBTQ rights activists happy and give new rights to the LGBT community after years of censoring. A body of the National People’s Congress, the country’s highest legislative institution, has publicly acknowledged petitions to legalize same-sex marriage, which was considered a rare event that has sparked a national debate on a topic that was once taboo. This has created expectations that the nation controlled by the Communist Party might eventually join the rising number of countries that have passed legislation that protects the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people. 

However, in August 2021, a representative of the National People’s Congress had dismissed same-sex marriage as contrary to Chinese culture and stressed that China’s marriage system was based on the union of “man and woman”.

Workplace discrimination

As a result of a survey, it was claimed that, in China, discrimination towards LGBT individuals in the workplace is common. Thousands of Chinese LGBT people responded that over half of them have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace as a result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This issue is a result of a lack of vigorous protections in the law for discrimination faced by the victims at the workplace.

Recent developments

Earlier this year, multiple media sources published the news about China’s government agenda to initiate a crackdown on tech companies, education, and pop culture. As an article in Bloomberg points out, this, however, is going to have an effect on the LGBT community in the country as well. The authorities highlighted the need to stop the feminization of men and expressed the plan to add more masculine physical activities in the school curriculum in order to grow a generation of ‘real’ men. State television is now also going to have much stricter checks on the content that is broadcast. Till recently, Chinese talent shows had male contestants dressed up in unisex clothing with heavy make-up. Now, the authorities will be much less lenient towards such content on screens. Earlier in 2016, “expression of same-sex love in films and television” was banned. Despite the ban, tech platforms still found ways to the public that longed for gender-diverse relations.

A popular Chinese male celebrity Lu Han on a commercial poster in the streets of Beijing.  Source: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan


Furthermore, in July this year, most universities’ LGBT communities on Wechat (popular Chinese social media) were shut down permanently. Those accounts provided support to LGBT students, and among them were Peking University Colors World and Fudan University Zhihe Society.


China still has a long way to go in supporting LGBT people. Same-sex marriages are not legal, and recently more LGBT-related content in media has been censored. This, in turn, creates more suspicion towards LGBT communities. Recently, measures taken by the authorities to censor LGBT-related content in the media can be a result of its agenda to increase the population.


Anonymous (8 July 2021). “China divided as WeChat deletes LGBT accounts from platform”. BBC. Available online at

Baculinao, Eric (7 January 2020). “Why is China Raising the Prospect of Same-sex Marriage?” News. Available online at

Culpan, Tim (18 September 2021). “China’s Crackdown Has a Straight Eye for the Queer Guy”. Bloomberg. Avaiable online at

SRI (October 2013). “Stakeholder Submission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights in China For the 17th Session of the Universal Periodic Review”. Sexual Rights Initiative. Available online at

Wang, Yuanyuan & Hu, Zhinshan & Peng, Ke & Xin, Ying & Yang, Yuan & Drescher, Jack (2019). “Discrimination Against LGBT Populations in China”. Public Health. Vol. 4, No. 9.

Wang, Yuanyuan & Hu, Zhinshan & Peng, Ke & Xin, Ying & Yang, Yuan & Drescher, Jack (2020). “Mapping Out a Spectrum of the Chinese Public’s Discrimination Toward the LGBT Community: Results from a National Survey”. BMC Public Health Vol. 20, No. 669.

1 thought on “LGBT in China”

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Coordinator - Tibet Team

Mandakini graduated with honours from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her team analyses the human rights violations faced by Tibetans through a legal lens.

Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Gabriela Johannen
Coordinator & Head Researcher – India

Gabriela Johannen is a lawyer admitted to the German bar and holds extensive knowledge in the fields of human rights, refugee law, and international law. After working for various courts and law firms in her home country, she decided to obtain an LL.M. degree from Utrecht University where she studied Public International Law with a special focus on Human Rights. Additionally, while working as a pro-bono legal advisor for refugees, she expanded her knowledge in the fields of refugee law and migration.

Gabriela is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD India, a country, she has had a personal connection with since childhood. Her primary focus is to raise awareness for the severe human rights violations against minorities and marginalized groups that continue to occur on a daily basis in India. By emphasizing the happenings and educating the general public, she hopes to create a better world for future generations.

João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

Wiktoria Walczyk has joined GHRD in June 2020 as a legal intern. She is currently coordinator and head researcher of Team Nepal and Indonesia. She has an extensive legal knowledge concerning international human rights and is passionate about children’s and minorities’ rights. Wiktoria has obtained her LL.B. in International & European Law and she specialised in Public International Law & Human Rights at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is pursuing her LL.M. in International & European Law and focusing on Modern Human Rights Law specialisation at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. In order to gain an essential legal experience, Wiktoria has also joined Credit Suisse’s 2021 General Counsel Graduate First Program where she is conducting her legal training and discovering the banking world. She would like to make a significant impact when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights around the world, especially with regard to child labour. 

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher

Fairuz Sewbaks holds extensive legal knowledge regarding international human rights, with a specific focus on human rights dealings taking place in continental Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Hague University in public international law and international human rights and successfully followed advanced human rights courses at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She furthermore participated in the Istanbul Summer School where she was educated about the role of epidemics and pandemics in light of human rights.


Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Jasmann Chatwal
Team Coordinator & Head Coordinator: North America

Jasmann is a political science student at Leiden University who joined GHRD in May 2021 as an intern in team Pakistan. Now, she is the team coordinator for North America and is responsible for coordinating the documentation of human rights violations in USA, Canada, and America.