Human Rights Watch

'An important step' for gay rights in China

'An important step' for gay rights in China

Before she became enmeshed in a potentially groundbreaking lawsuit against the Chinese government, Chen Qiuyan was an ordinary college student struggling to come to terms with her sexuality.

Early this year, the 20-year-old college junior was beginning to realize that she was a lesbian — her male classmates at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou didn’t interest her, but a female classmate did — and she sought guidance in the school library.

Many of the textbooks she pulled from the shelves described homosexuality as an illness. Some even recommended electroshock therapy as a "cure." She sent a letter to provincial education officials seeking an...