A pair of Wuhan college students and their anti-gay banner have sparked anger among the Chinese LGBTQ community.
At the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, a pair of female students who play on the university’s basketball team were photographed holding a big red banner, Sixth Tone reports. In yellow lettering, the banner read, “Protect Chinese traditional mores. Defend core socialist values. Resist corrosion from decadent Western thoughts. Keep homosexuality far from the university campus.”
The photo was posted to social networking site QQ Qzone last Sunday by Ling Bing, the students’ basketball coach at HUST, along with a caption: “It’s the wish of the public, which I always bear in my heart.”
A HUST student told Sixth Tone that Ling Bing’s basketball players bullied their lesbian teammates. He also said the photograph infuriated him, commenting, “I have never seen such specific exclusion or discrimination committed with such great fanfare.”
One of the girls holding the banner made a QQ Qzone post bragging about her coach’s homophobia: “The women’s basketball team used to be disaster area for homosexuality. But after our positive education and reform, there are very few gay people left on the women’s basketball team.”
Bullying is a major problem for LGBTQ students in China. A 2016 survey found that over two-fifths of Chinese students saw bullying and violence against LGBTQ classmates. Many of the victims were even sexually harassed by school staff.
The post has received increasing attention and increasing backlash from the LGBTQ community and netizens, with comments like “I think the girls themselves are in the closet,” “Don’t embarrass your teacher,” and “any kind of love is beautiful — don’t judge others!”
Other users took objection to the banner’s characterization of homosexuality is a form of Western corruption, pointing out that Chinese history is super gay, with many emperors carrying on same-sex relationships.