A court in China has heard the case of a man suing his company after allegedly being sacked because he was gay in what is probably the country's first lawsuit over gay workplace discrimination.
"We're very optimistic," Liu Xiaohu, a lawyer for the plaintiff told AFP news agency that reported “a Chinese court has heard what is believed to be the country's first lawsuit over gay workplace discrimination.”
The plaintiff named “Mu” was fired after a video involuntarily outed him when it showed the Nanshan police dealing with a dispute between two gay males in the street. That video went viral on the web.
"During that time (when the video went viral) I was a total wreck. I couldn't go out. I couldn't answer the phone. I even lost my job," Mu told reporters, according to shanghaiist.com.
Mu worked as the head of sales in a design company soon after the video went viral received a notice from his employers claiming that he did not follow the company dress code and that there were complaints about his service attitude. He was then fired.
"Worst thing of all, when I was on break, the company lowered my salary substantially, which is clearly discrimination against me. I can find another job but the discrimination is unbearable. That's why I decided to file the lawsuit," Mu said, according to shanghaiist.com.
Mu’s lawsuit seeking an apology as well as 50,000 yuan (US$8,000) in compensation was filed in November and is the first of its kind in the country, according to the China office of the US-based rights group PFLAG.
is lawsuit was heard last week by the Nanshan District People's Court in the southern metropolis of Shenzhen. A decision is expected within the next three months.
Mu’s action is part of a wider push by the LGBT community to use the courts to seek fairer treatment under the law where same- sex relations was illegal until 1997 and defined as a mental disorder until 2001.
Last year a 19-year-old challenged a decision by the civil affairs department of Hunan government not to register his gay rights organization when it said same sex relations have no place in traditional Chinese culture.
Recently, a Chinese court for the time heard of a challenge against “gay conversion therapy” and ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
Attitudes in China though are slow to change due to the deeply held Chinese belief that children are required to marry and bear offspring to continue the family line. Hence same-sex relations still remain heavily stigmatized.