BY KRISTINA CHEW
The latest edition of one of China’s most authoritative dictionaries contains a glaring omission. Gay rights advocates say that, amid the 69,000 entries, 13,000 Chinese characters and more than 3,000 new phrases in the newly revised sixth edition of the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary, a definition for a commonly used word for “gay” in Chinese has been excluded.
The word in question, tongzhi, is a colloquial term equivalent to “gay.” As Ding Xueliang, a social sciences professor from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, tells the BBC, tongzhi has another definition, “comrade,” with political associations:
“The use of ‘tongzhi’ to describe homosexuality started in Hong Kong and Taiwan to make fun of the mainland’s communist terminology because Chinese leaders address each other using ‘tongzhi’ meaning ‘comrade’ – for instance, ‘Hu Jintao tongzhi’ or ‘Wen Jiabao tongzhi.’
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