China has rewritten its national code of conduct for prison inmates to eliminate discriminatory policies so prisoners will no longer be punished for being openly gay.

The code was changed to respect the human rights of inmates, according to the head of the Ministry of Justice Human Rights in Justice office Feng Cangjian.

Feng said a person’s sexual orientation should not make them a target for discrimination, whether they were in prison or not.

Sex between prisoners will still be banned.

“The inmates will be left alone if their homosexuality remains ‘spiritual’,” Feng said, “but because prison inmates are not free persons, they cannot act as freely as the rest of us.”

Feng said the change in policy had been inspired by a visit to the United States.

“I raised the question when I visited prisons in the United States,” Feng said. “Prison officials there told me homosexual partners are separated if they attempt to remain together.”

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