Gays criticise state media coverage of Icelandic leader's visit

No mention of Johanna Sigurdardottir's lesbian wife Jonina Leosdottir in CCTV prime-time slot

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 5:00am


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The gay and lesbian community slammed state broadcaster CCTV for not mentioning the wife of Iceland's openly gay prime minister in prime-time coverage of her state visit to China.

CCTV aired footage on Monday and last night of Johanna Sigurdardottir's visit. She has met President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

However, there was no mention of Icelandic first lady Jonina Leosdottir. The omission triggered comments online, particularly among gays and lesbians who have been following the prime minister's visit.

Elsie Liao Mengru , a university student in Beijing who has been trying to legally wed her lesbian partner, said she was disappointed to see the lesbian leader not properly represented in China.

"This shows the nation's usual practice of deliberately ignoring or neglecting gay and lesbian issues in China," she said.

This shows the nation's usual practice of deliberately ignoring or neglecting gay and lesbian issues in China

Sigurdardottir arrived in Beijing on Saturday for a five-day visit.

Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV reported that Sigurdardottir thanked Li for receiving her and her wife on Monday evening.

"I particularly wish to express my gratitude for your friendly hospitality to me and my wife. I was very welcomed, no matter where I went in Beijing," she was quoted by the broadcaster as saying.

This was not reported in CCTV's news reports or in stories by Xinhua and the People's Daily.

Hu Zhijun , executive director of PFLAG China, a Guangzhou-based rights group that advocates on behalf of the homosexual community, said the treatment by state media highlighted Beijing's ignorance towards homosexuality.

"It shows that authorities … fear they might be promoting a homosexual lifestyle if they include her [Leosdottir] in the news," Hu said. "I personally know about 60 Chinese civil servants who are gay. There are many more who have never dared to come out of the closet.

"I think her visit is exciting. It's an encouragement to the many gay officials living in the dark."

Lu Pin , programme manager for the Beijing-based Media Monitor for Women Network, said the visit had served up the issue of legalising gay marriage on a plate for the government. "Even though her wife was not in the official news, she is trending in China's social media," Lu said. "This helps raise awareness about the issue."