A group of Chinese parents of gay and lesbian children have asked their country's first lady, Peng Liyuan, to step in and prevent societal discrimination against gay people.
Peng, wife of President Xi Jinping, is a high-profile political figure in her own right and campaigns for HIV prevention in China as a World Health Organization ambassador.
In a letter delivered to Peng, members of PFLAG China asked her to consider the effects of homophobia on gay and lesbian children. “For a long time, our society has not wanted to face gay people,” the letter reads. “The media cannot or will not report on gay people. People do not receive accurate information, and see this whole group as immoral or even sick. ”
PFLAG points to research from the University of San Francisco that suggests gay and lesbian children rejected by their families suffer worse health outcomes, including mental illness, drug use, suicide and exposure to HIV. As an HIV campaigner, they argue, Peng should tackle LGBT issues as well.
“Discrimination and misunderstanding will drive homosexuals toward more despair and risk. It is our ‘Chinese dream’ to call for equal rights for our children,” one of the letter’s authors, Dong Wanwan, told the South China Morning Post.
PFLAG China is one of the most influential LGBT organizations in the country, where homosexuality is begrudgingly tolerated but ignored by the government. In China, where gay people are often seen as betraying their parents by refusing to continue the family bloodline, vocally supportive parents have special importance.