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Gay Chinese teacher loses case for unfair dismissal

A gay kindergarten teacher in China holds a sign reading 'I am gay' as he files a case with the labor court (Photo: Weibo)

A labor arbitration committee in Qingdao, China, last week ruled against a gay teacher who sued a kindergarten.

He claims he was fired for being gay.

Taking the pseudonym Ming Yue, he said parents of students at his previous school alerted his current employer, who then fired him.

The committee did not acknowledge Ming’s claim.

It did, however, order the kindergarten to pay six months’ salary (US$5,200) to Ming for failing to sign an employment contract with him.

Ming told Gay Star News he was grateful for the ‘relatively fair result’.

‘I am disappointed that there is no clear indication in this labor arbitration that companies cannot discriminate against homosexuals’, he said.

Liu Yangming, of PFLAG China, said the case would still encourage more teachers to be true to themselves.

‘The case also drew attention to employers that they should not be able to dismiss employees simply because of their sexual orientation.’

Ming brought the case to Qingdao’s labor arbitration in September. Ming posed with a sign reading: ‘I teach my kids to be honest, so I cannot lie. I am gay’.

Ming and his lawyers are considering taking the case to court. A court can rule on discrimination because of his sexual orientation.

Being LGBTI at work in China

China decriminalized gay sex in 1997. It also declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001.

But, the country is socially conservative and places a large emphasis on the traditional nuclear family. Many LGBTI Chinese are not out at home or at work.

There is currently no legislation to protect LGBTI people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Meanwhile, a UN report released earlier this year found 10 percent of LGBTI people in China believed they were denied a job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Furthermore, more than two-thirds of people had seen advertisements that excluded their sexuality or gender identity.

In 2014, a homosexual man in Guiyang province took his employer to court because he believed he was fired due to his sexuality. He lost the case.

In 2016, a transgender man won a case of unlawful dismissal against his employer. People should not be discriminated against based on sexuality, gender, nationality, or religion, the judge said.

‘The right to work’

Importantly, Ming and his lawyers argued that the kindergarten contravened Chinese law. It that states ‘Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right and obligation to work’.

‘This case is a labor dispute, and all laws and regulations concerning the protection of labor rights and interests can be applied’ Ming’s lawyers told Gay Star News.

They pushed the kindergarten to reinstate Ming and offer compensation.

‘I want to get a formal and sincere apology and look forward to continuing my career in preschool education without any discrimination,’ Ming said as he launched teh case.

Yanzi Pang, director of LGBTI Rights Advocacy China, praised Ming’s bravery.

‘Many LGBTI people experience discrimination in the workplace, more people should stand up with the legal process’.

The group said it hoped Ming’s case would show the population that LGBTI people are just like everyone else. ‘They are not monsters, and they are just plain people work in different fields’.

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Author: Rik Glauert