Online Discrimination Towards Homosexual People: Cyber-culture in Contemporary China

By FRANCIS YEUNG and RJ BARRETE

In a modern generation we live in, it is indeed undeniable how forms of discrimination still exist in various societies. This article talks about the discrimination towards homosexual people in Hong Kong on online platforms, specifically in social media trend.

Hong Kong’s homosexual population has reached to an average of 9% of the total Hong Kong population according to a survey report by the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme. Homosexuals by definition are persons who are sexually attracted to people of their own sex. Same sex issue has recently hit the News Headlines and has caused problems between representatives from the Homosexual group like CC Ho, who claims that they are being discriminated; laws in the status quo are not enough to protect their rights and freedom as there are no laws to govern homosexual citizens.

On the other hand, individuals and organizations deny these claims. Some even declare that they don’t know who homosexuals are and their population. Religious organizations like Christian Action states that they do not discriminate homosexuals but helping them back on the right track by following the teachings of the Bible.

Internet Use and Online Social Support

Homosexual people are willing to show their preference through internet. Sometimes, they also have homosexual activities online to express their opinion. They consider online community as a support source for homosexual people. They feel more comfortable in the internet world, as they can access the internet and use fake names show their sexual preferences online. Internet further provides social function and sexual contact opportunity for them. They meet people who have commonality in terms of sexual preference and find their sexual partners through online platform.

Traditional thinking in China makes homosexual individuals experience anxiety and stress, thus a need to hide their sexual preference is the only option. Young professionals and well-educated MSM (Men who have sex with Men) are more adopting innovative technology to seek sex partners. The reason why they engage online activities because they are afraid to disclose their sexual orientation in return may result to discrimination.

Interview with Frank

Frank is gay. He is 45 yrs old and works as a journalist as his profession. He is an outgoing person who accepts challenges and is used to several societal norms that transcend to discrimination.

He always uses different social media platforms, such as Facebook and other applications to communicate with his family, friends and other people. He has four Facebook accounts, each account is used for communicating with particular group of people, such as those who go to gym. He does not hide his sexual preference on Facebook because all of his friends and his family members know that he is gay.

He believes that there is a difference between Western and Chinese culture. In Western culture, people express their opinion more straight forward, he said. For him, expressing opinion, such as disliking gay is a kind of discrimination. Discrimination means we set perception and standards towards a particular group of people; which in result set them apart from society in terms of rights and discriminated by the accepted traditional norms.

One of the ways how discrimination affects homosexuals is the loss of self-confidence. He thinks there is discrimination in Hong Kong even though Hong Kongers tend to hide their opinions.

He is not worried that people may discriminate him. Sometimes, he would join discussions about homosexuality on online forums. He always uses his real name to express his opinion. He seldom experiences face to face discrimination.

Frank commented that face to face discrimination is more painful than online because it happens in real time. Initially, when his family members discovered his sexual preference, it was hard for them to accept, he said. They tried to push him into joining more masculine activities, such as playing basketball, although he already joined such. His feeling was not good. He thinks voicing out is a good way to make people accept his/her sexual preference. According to Frank, some of his homosexual friends who practice traditional thinking would consciously find a fake girlfriend in order to male people trust and believe that they are heterosexual.

Interview Results 

Tools used to find and chat with same sex preference

Survey says that 100% of homosexuals use Whatsapp as online tool to engage with same sex inidividuals, 90% on Mobile apps, 80% on Homosexual websites and only 50% on Facebook

Frequency of Discrimination Faced by various means

Survey says that the Frequency of Discrimination happens 90% Face to Face and 40% online

Method affects the homosexual emotions the most

Survey provides that homosexuals are more affected through face to face discrimination with 80% and online with 20%

Homosexual requesting for a Law to protect them

Survey provides that 100% are requesting for a law to protect homosexuals

Heterosexual favouring a law to protect homos

Survey provides that 80% of heterosexuals are against on any law favouring the protection of homosexuals while 20% are in favor

Friends preference towards Homos

Survey provides that some prefer lesbians with 28%; gays with 2.5%

Methods used by friends to identify who are gays

Survey provides that some would identify who are gays by the way they behave with 28%; By their speaking style with 25%; the way they dress with 15%; and judging them by knowing them better with 1%

FRANCIS YEUNG is an Australian born Chinese, who studies Business in Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

RJ BARRETE is a Researcher in a lobbying and political management firm in the Philippines.

Follow me on Twitter: @rjamesbarrete

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