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A Chinese court has heard what is believed to be the country’s first workplace discrimination case against a gay employee, which could have wide repercussions across the country.
The plaintiff – using a pseudonym Mu Yi – filed the case in Shenzen in November, after he claimed he was fired from his job when he was revealed as gay in a viral online video. His action was heard last week by the Nanshan District People’s Court in Shenzen, AFP reported.
“We’re very optimistic,” Liu Xiaohu, a lawyer for the plaintiff, told AFP, adding the case “will definitely have an impact” on views of gay rights in China.
Mu Yi was filmed by police last year arguing with another man on a Shenzen street, who was also identified to be gay. The video went viral when it was posted online, with other people making their own videos playing on a speech made by the other participant, who was identified as wearing a “little red hat”.
A week later, Mu was fired from his job as a designer. However, Mu’s employer maintains his firing was not linked to his sexual orientation, and said he was dismissed for other reasons including “poor service attitude”.
Mu is seeking 50,000 yuan (S$10,826) and an apology from his former employer. A decision on the case – which has become known as the “little red hat” case – is expected in the next three months.
In China, the Communist government only decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, and listed it as a mental illness for another four years.
In recent years, tolerance has grown in larger Chinese cities, but conservative attitudes still remain in many parts of the country. Workplace discrimination based on sexual preference is “common”, AFP reported.