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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 11:25 GMT
China gay group 'gets approval'
A homosexual group has been officially registered at a mainland Chinese university campus for the first time, a Hong Kong-based activist has said.

The Sun Yat Sen University in Zhuhai, southern China, has allowed a gay and lesbian group of students to be formally registered.

It is the first university in China to acknowledge the public existence of homosexual interests on campus.

Homosexuality is officially frowned upon in China.

According to a BBC correspondent in Hong Kong, it is highly unusual for official recognition to be granted to such a group.

Many informal groups of gay and lesbian Chinese exist but avoid official censure by using the internet.

'Growing diversity'

Hong Kong activist Chung To, who has visited the new group at Zhuhai, says its application focused not on the sexuality of members but on their wish to study gender issues.

"They are a group of students who would like to study and learn more about gay and lesbian issues," said Mr To, who is director of foundation that runs projects for children affected by Aids in China.

"I think the significance of the group mainly is that it is the first time the university officially approves the existence of such a group.

"In the past there have been informal gay and lesbian centred groups at universities. But this is the first time that a university was actually officially was given approval of such a group," he said.

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