University in
Shanghai to offer China's first course in homosexual

A university in
Shanghai is offering China's first class on homosexuality
and gay culture, and several hundred students have applied
for the 100 openings, a professor in charge of the
course said Tuesday.
Professor Sun Zhongxin, one of the course's
instructors at prestigious Fudan University, said its
introduction resulted from strong interest among
undergraduates. "I used to teach Gender Study for
undergraduates and found they were very interested in the
topic of homosexuality," Sun said. The class is full,
but "more students are still applying," Sun said.
The course aims to break down widespread
ignorance and prejudice against gays in China, another
instructor, Gao Yanning, was quoted as saying by the
Shanghai Daily newspaper. "We will pay more
attention on how to have a proper view about
homosexuals," the paper quoted Gao as saying. "We will
give students an equitable judgment on homosexuals and
help eliminate students' discrimination."
A secretary at Fudan's sociology department said
Gao could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gays were strongly persecuted after China's 1949
communist revolution, condemned as products of
decadent Western and feudal societies. Puritanical
official attitudes have gradually changed since the late
1980s, and in 2001 the China Psychiatric Association ceased
listing homosexuality as a mental illness. Looser
enforcement of laws on homosexual behavior has allowed
small but thriving gay scenes to emerge in Shanghai,
Beijing, and other cities in the developed east.
Yet, given the disdain shown to homosexuality by
traditional Confucian culture, gay men and women in
China still tend to hide their sexual orientation.
While reports of violence against gays are rare,
discrimination by family members and coworkers remains
strong, and Communist Party officials have ruled out
legislation outlawing such unfair treatment.
The Fudan course follows an earlier an earlier
graduate course gay health issues that focused mainly
on AIDS prevention. About 2,000 students have taken
the earlier course since it was launched in 2003, Fuday
professor Sun said. (AP)

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