There are some interesting developments in China. Andrew Stokols says that China’s LGBT community has made great strides in recent decades.
China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, even before the U.S. removed all anti-sodomy laws in certain states. But today, there are no formal laws to prevent discrimination against LGBT Chinese, especially in the workplace. Since China’s ministry removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 2001, government policy and public opinion has also gradually shifted. Public health ministries have been targeting gay bars with public awareness campaigns advocating safe-sex and HIV-testing. But generally, LGBT Chinese now fall into an uncomfortably grey area: no longer directly harassed, but also ignored.
There are suggestions that that country’s leadership may move towards legalization of same-sex marriage, though that is still a dim hope for the near future. But if the world’s largest country containing about one-sixth of the population does so, that would be a huge step forward.
The Chinese leadership is also moving to discourage religion and superstition and promote scientific ways of thinking. Wang Zuoan, head of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, is worried about the increase in religious beliefs in the country following its recent liberalization which he attributes to “a desire for reassurance in an increasingly complex world”.
“For a ruling party which follows Marxism, we need to help people establish a correct world view and to scientifically deal with birth, ageing, sickness and death, as well as fortune and misfortune, via popularizing scientific knowledge”
He warns that combating religion is something that must be done gradually.
“Religion has been around for a very long time, and if we rush to try to push for results and want to immediately ‘liberate’ people from the influence of religion, then it will have the opposite effect and push people in the opposite direction.”
It is interesting that they see religion as providing soothing but false explanations to help people deal with the issues of life, although they believe that scientific thinking would be even better.