LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s snapshot of the current state of affairs for LGBT+ people, through the lens of international business. The Business Climate Score score is out of ten possible points, and is based on ten independently verifiable indicators of the legal, cultural and business context for LGBT+ people.

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1.
Are consensual homosexual acts between adults legal?
1
Yes
2.
Are marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples available?
0
No relationship recognition
3.
Is being LGBT+ punishable by death?
1
No
4.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment prohibited?
0
No
5.
Can transgender people legally change their gender markers?
0.5
Only available to some, with discriminatory requirements
6.
Is sex reassignment surgery at birth for intersex children prohibited?
0
No
7.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the provision of goods and services prohibited?
0
No
8.
Is there a U.S. State Department warning against travel for LGBT+ individuals?
1
No
9.
Do companies sponsor Pride?
0
No
10.
Are there laws prohibiting freedom for assembly or speech for LGBT+ people (i.e. “anti-propoganda laws”, media gags, etc)?
0.5
No, but there are significant restrictions
Talking Points
  • China’s lack of LGBT+ protections is driving top local LGBT+ talent to the West and inhibiting diverse forms of innovation.
  • China’s lack of LGBT+ inclusion has negative economic consequences, such as a brain drain from local firms to international firms inclusive of LGBT+ people, lost productivity from LGBT+ workers due to covering, untapped consumer spending, and inhibited creativity.
  • Given China’s competitive ambitions in the global marketplace, China’s policies cannot afford to ignore LGBT+ diversity and inclusion. Even parts of the government seem to recognize this: a state-owned news company invested millions of dollars in a gay dating app in early 2017.
  • The Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China's ongoing campaign against representations of LGBT+ people in media is a growing concern, and contributes to an atmosphere of stigma that makes it difficult for me to justify locating top LGBT+ talent in China.
  • China’s current laws make it difficult for me to consider relocating any of my talented LGBT+ employees to the country, due to complications around spousal and family visas.
  • Accepting conservative estimates that 4-6% of the general population identifies as LGBT, there are between 54 million and 83 million LGBT+ people in China. Estimates put potential LGBT+ Chinese spending power at $300 billion annually. If Chinese laws and cultural attitudes shifted in favor of LGBT+ equality, millions of LGBT+ people would be able to participate more fully and openly in the economy.
Talking Points
Impact of LGBT+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
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    NO RISK
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    LOW RISK
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    MODERATE RISK
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    NOTABLE RISK
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    HIGH RISK
BRAND RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
There is little brand risk to operating in China. Economically, it is estimated that the purchasing power of China's LGBT + community is US $300 billion.
CLIENT RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
The Chinese government does not actively persecute LGBT + individuals; accordingly, there is low risk of an international firm losing LGBT+ clients because they do business in China.
TALENT RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
Same-sex spouses aren't recognized in China and therefore cannot easily obtain spousal visas. This creates difficulties for companies seeking to relocate employees who are in same-sex marriages and partnerships.
MARKETING RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
Because of a mixed environment around LGBT+ acceptance, companies can engage in targeted marketing to LGBT + people, but may encounter challenges if they attempt to mass market LGBT+ content.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • — As of 2012, more than 100 LGBT+ organizations had been established in various parts of China and the number is steadily increasing. But the vast majority of them are unable to register as civil organizations, and have been told they are not ideologically aligned with Chinese culture. They register, instead, as businesses, and are taxed accordingly.
  • — Pride festivals do exist, but they are difficult to organize and maintain due to the government’s general censorship of public demonstrations.
  • — Within the workplace, the main issues LGBT+ employees report are: (1) fear of coming out, (2) lack of awareness and respect for sexual minorities, (3) lack of visibility, (4) isolation, (5) lack of LGBT+ friendly policies, and (6) lack of role models. This is especially the case within China’s state-owned enterprises, where only 2% of LGBT+ employees are completely open; compared to 8% and 9% at private and foreign companies, respectively.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • — In 2018, Sina Weibo, the dominant Chinese social network, announced that it would censor LGBT+ content (in keeping with governmental directives) but backed down after triggering a widespread outcry from users.
  • — Social and cultural attitudes towards homosexuality are changing gradually from traditional Confucian teachings and patriarchal restrictions to more tolerant views, especially in Tier-1 cities and regional urban hubs.
  • — Though homosexuality was removed from a list of mental illnesses in 2001, beliefs persist that homosexuality can be cured, and a number of clinics in China offer “conversion” shock therapy for gay people.
  • — Culturally, there are many misconceptions facing the LGBT+ community due to general lack of education and social interaction with LGBT+ people, particularly in rural areas.
  • — Many associate gay people with the HIV epidemic due to misinformation.
  • — China’s decades old One Child Policy, which became a two-child policy in 2015, has put pressure on single children to marry the opposite sex and produce children. In this context, homosexuality is often viewed as destructive of the family core and against Confucian values.
  • — LGBT+ is often viewed as a “Western import” with no legitimacy in China, despite a recorded history of homosexuality in ancient times.
  • — Nonetheless, Chinese people appear to be gradually accepting the LGBT+ community. A 2014 survey of city residents showed that 59% believed society should accept homosexuality; this is a significant improvement from a broader-based 2013 survey showing only 21% of respondents saying homosexuality should be accepted.
Local Leaders Advocating for LGBT+ Equality

There are many openly LGBT + activists and experts in China. Out Leadership recommends:

Jacob Huang
Corporate Program Director for Afbai Culture and Education Center

XinYing
Executive Director of the Beijing LGBT Center
Purpose

Dandan “Dana” Zhang
Executive Director of the Chinese Lila Alliance

Xu Bin
Director of Common Language