An hour-long internet television programme to be broadcast this week will be the first in China aimed at gay men.

Connecting Homosexuals will be presented by out gay man and AIDS activist Didier Zheng and will be shown on www.phoenixtv.com on Thursday.

Mr Zheng, who was educated in Paris, explained that he hopes gay people will gain more visibility and recognition in Chinese society.

The programme, to be broadcast weekly from Beijing, will focus on social and legal aspects of gay life in the world’s most populous country, but will also feature an on-screen dating section.

A more relaxed attitude to homosexuality in China has come alongside the liberalisation of the country’s economy.

While the internet is widely available, it is subject to censorship. Some gay websites have been closed down, and the net remains the only real outlet for gay media in the country.

The Chinese government attitude towards the gay people has been described as the “Three No’s;” no approval, no disapproval, and no promotion.

Sodomy was decriminalised in 1997 and since 2001 homosexuality has not been regarded as a mental illness.

The producer of Connecting Homosexuals told AP:

“There are many people in China’s gay community, but people don’t have a deep enough understanding about this community. This community faces a lot of trouble and difficulties. They face a lot of pressure.”