China opens first free clinic for Gays
Reuters reported today that:
BEIJING - China, where homosexuality was listed as a mental illness until five years ago, has opened its first free clinic for gays, providing tests for
AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, state media said on Thursday.
People wanting checkups would have to log on to the Beijing clinic Web site and fill in an application form, but patients would be treated anonymously, the China Daily said.
During Mao Zedong's era, homosexuals were persecuted and prison terms and death sentences meted out.
Many Chinese associate homosexuality with AIDS, fears of which run so strong that some people refuse to go to hospitals they believe treat AIDS patients, the China Daily said.
China generally is becoming more tolerant, but homosexuals remain under heavy pressure within traditional families to stay in the closet.
The government China Center for Disease Control and Prevention along with Beijing's Chaoyang District provided the funding for the clinic.
"We hope this program will underline the common medical rights enjoyed by gays," Xiao Dong, head of the Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group, was quoted as saying.
Official nationwide estimates put the total number of gay men in China at between 5 and 10 million, but Xiao said the number might be between 10 and 50 million.
"Things related to homosexuality are quite accepted among younger people in China," Zhao Zheng, a volunteer at the clinic, told the newspaper.
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