The battle for LGBTQ rights is at the frontier of human rights activism in China today because LGBTQ individuals and communities live (and thrive) at the margins of China’s legal and policy frameworks. The increasing visibility of individuals who identify as LGBTQ, tongzhi or queer/kuer in urban Chinese society, is contrasted with the laws, policies, and social norms that render them invisible. This chapter addresses this juxtaposition through an examination of how LGBTQ activists have sought to build communities, change cultural narratives about LGBTQ experiences, advocate for legal and policy reform, and engage with human rights issues domestically and internationally. In countering entrenched invisibility in multiple arenas—within families, local communities, at work places and within government systems—LGBTQ activists have been forced by necessity to innovate, navigating legal grey areas to find multiple entry-points for advocacy and engagement on LGBTQ rights.
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