China has around 70 million LGBT citizens, but many young people still keep their sexual orientation a secret.
According to a new report in the Financial Review, this is largely because of family pressure for youth to get married in their 20s and start a family. Many gay individuals reportedly enter "fake marriages" just to appease their parents.
"There is a common perception outside China that the conservative Communist Party and its army of censors is the main obstacle to being gay in China," the article stated. "However, almost any LGBT person you meet there will say it is not the government that is the problem but their parents."
William Dai, a 29-year-old born in Beijing, quietly runs a monthly gay film event in Shanghai. He told the Financial Review that he originally came out to his mother, but it took years to do the same with his father. The main opposition young LGBT people face, he said, is the "traditional family unit," comparing it to the way religion functions in other countries.
Same-sex marriage is not currently on the table for discussion in China, although homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997.
An art consultant in Beijing, Qiu Yelin once studied in the U.S. and has a Western boyfriend. The boyfriend encouraged Qiu to come out to his family, a decision which he told Financial Review was "disastrous."
Despite the fact that being gay is not illegal in China, he explained that "the difficulties come from traditional education about family."
"Western observers don't understand that issues often get resolved because they are quietly done. If it is getting less attention it doesn't mean the cause is not being furthered," Qiu said.
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