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11 December 2023

Guard jailed in China's 'first male-rape case'


A man has been jailed for one year in what state media said Wednesday was believed to be China's first prosecution of a male rape, in a country where homosexuality is still a sensitive subject.

A Beijing court convicted the 42-year-old man, identified by the alias Zhang Hua, of intentional injury after he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old male colleague in May 2010, China Daily said Wednesday, citing a court official.

In the September ruling, the court also ordered Zhang to pay the victim 20,000 yuan (3,000 dollars) in compensation, the report said.

Zhang, a security guard at a sports centre in Beijing, raped his colleague late at night in the dormitory they shared in the capital, it said.

The court found Zhang had "deliberately injured another person, resulting in minor injuries to the victim, which constituted the crime of intentional injury".

Zhang, however, could not be charged with rape, as under China's criminal law, the offence refers only to forcing a woman to engage in sexual intercourse against her will, the report said.

The newspaper did not explain why news of the case was emerging months after the decision, but noted the case had been heard in closed session to protect the privacy of the victim.

Legal experts said the case had highlighted a flaw in China's legal system, and called for the law to be amended.

"If Zhang had sexually assaulted a woman, he would be charged with rape and face a jail term of at least three years," Lu Zheng, director of the Beijing-based Zhongguangweitian Law Firm, was quoted as saying.

Homosexuality -- officially considered a form of mental illness until 2001 -- is still an extremely sensitive issue in China, and gays face crushing social and family pressure, despite gradual steps towards greater acceptance.