HOMOSEXUALS IN CHINA
China is home to an LGBTQ population larger than the total population of France — around 70 million people — based on the presumption that about 5 percent of any given population identifies as queer. But according to a United Nations estimate, less than 5 percent of gay Chinese choose to come out. Chinese estimates tend to be lower based on assumptions that that gay men and women constitute between 1 and 5 percent of the Chinese population. According to estimates by Zhang Beichuan, an expert on homosexuality and AIDS at Qingdao University, there were 30 million homosexuals in China, with 20 million of them gay men and the remainder lesbians, in the late 2000s. [Source: China Daily; Yi-Ling Liu, New York Times, March 5, 2020]
Until 2001, homosexuality was classified in China as a mental illness. Today, although not illegal — it was decriminalized in 1997 — it is also not encouraged by the authorities. (In 2010, the inaugural Mr. Gay China pageant was shut by police an hour before it was due to start.) Despite this, large cities like Beijing have gay nightclubs and active gay public figures.
Colum Murphy of the Wall Street Journal wrote: “Though awareness and tolerance of homosexuality is slowly on the rise, in rural towns and villages the topic is rarely discussed. For many Chinese parents today, discovering that their son or daughter is homosexual is seen as a blow that could affect the family’s standing in the community. It’s also seen as reducing the chances the parents will have grandchildren, given that many families only have one child due to restrictive government family-planning policies. [Source: Colum Murphy, China Real Time, Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2015]
According to a 2010 report from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the matter of homosexuality in China remains largely in the shadows; homosexuality has been decriminalized there since 1997 and is no longer officially considered a mental disorder, but neither are gay people protected by law. “The legal status and position of homosexuality in China bears the hallmarks of a subject which has been little considered within official Chinese governmental circles,” the organization notes But, when it comes to the media, there appears to be more consideration. [Source: Lily Rothman, Time, January 22, 2014]
According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality, “There are those who, when faced with undeniable evidence of homosexuality, respond by seeking to eliminate it. Even many physicians still fail to recognize homosexuality as simply one possible sexual orientation. For example, in Harbin, one of the largest cities in northeastern China, physicians now use the discredited approach of “treating” homosexuality with electric shock therapy to discourage erotic thoughts. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]
Article 106 of the Criminal Law of the People Republic of China says, “All hooliganism should be subjected to arrest and sentence.” In practice, homosexual activity has been included in “hooliganism.” In the 1990s, even the small sample of letters received b Fang-fu Ruan, M.D. contained a report of a man who received a five-year jail term for homosexuality. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo,Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]
See Separate Articles: HISTORY OF HOMOSEXUALITY AND BISEXUALITY IN CHINA factsanddetails.com ; GAY AND LESBIAN LIFE IN CHINA, GAY BARS AND GAY DATING APPS factsanddetails.com ;COMING OUT IN CHINA AND THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MARRIED GAYS factsanddetails.com ; SUFFERING OF LGBT IN CHINA: DISCRIMINATION, PERSECUTION AND "CURING" CLINICS factsanddetails.com ; TRANSGENDER PEOPLE AND TRANSSEXUALS IN CHINA factsanddetails.com ; SEX IN CHINA: SURVEYS, VIRGINITY AND DRASTIC CHANGES factsanddetails.com SEX AND HISTORY IN CHINA factsanddetails.com ; EUNUCHS IN CHINA factsanddetails.com
Websites and Sources: USA Today piece usatoday.com ; Sex Incidents in China zonaeuropa.com ; Sex Industry guardian.co.uk ; Chinese sex toy maker lacyshaki.en ; Books: “Sexual Life of Ancient China”, written by Robert van Gulik in the 1920s; “The Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Sex History” by Professor Liu Dalin and “Sex China Studies in Sexology in Chinese Culture” by Fang-ju Juan, The Sexology Research Institute of China is at People's University in Beijing. Sex History and Literature Ancient Sex Culture China.org ; Chinese Sex Literature yellowbridge.com ; Sex in Ancient China Book Review dannyreviews.com Prostitution in China : Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Shanghaiist blog shanghaiist.com ; Homosexuality in China History of Gay life in China fordham.edu/halsall
History of LGBTQ Communities in China
Yi-Ling Liu wrote in the New York Times: ““Historically, Chinese society has neither recognized nor shunned its queer communities. Chinese religious traditions like Buddhism and Confucianism do not overtly condemn homosexuality, which means that cultural attitudes are more malleable there than in other Asian countries like Indonesia or the Philippines. Nor was homosexuality considered by authorities to be a decadent Western import; on the contrary, it is widespread and recognized in Chinese history and culture. One of China’s literary masterpieces, “Dream of the Red Chamber, ” an 18th-century novel, is filled with same-sex relationships. A term still used today to refer to gay relationships — duan xiu, or “cut sleeve” — comes from a story in “The Book of Han, ” an official history of the Han dynasty that was completed in the second century, in which the emperor wakes from a nap to find his male lover still asleep on his robe, and tenderly cuts off his sleeve to avoid waking him. [Source: Yi-Ling Liu, New York Times, March 5, 2020]
“When China began to turn toward the West in the late 19th century, it also absorbed a pathologizing view of homosexuality as an illness — an attitude that would not soften again until a century later, with the introduction of Deng Xiaoping’s open-door policy in the late ’70s, which opened up markets and encouraged the liberalization of Chinese society. Still, homosexuality was formally considered a mental illness until 2001. But in recent years, the government has neither expressed explicit support for the LGBTQ community nor sought to crush it. Whereas Russia has adopted a position “that LGBT rights is a Western conspiracy designed to weaken the nation, ” says Darius Longarino, a fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, “in China, it’s not like that at all.” In fact, state media has even attempted to distinguish the LGBTQ movement from its Western counterparts and portray its progress as one with “Chinese characteristics.” Recently, The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, published an article titled “China’s LGBT activists break away from Western agenda, ” arguing that because of China’s unique climate, the path to progress should be less driven by political activism than in the West.
“But longstanding Confucian traditions and values — an emphasis on having a respectable marriage, giving birth to sons, saving face and filial piety — remain deeply embedded in the fabric of Chinese society. This dynamic also means that family is the place where rejection and discrimination occur most frequently, particularly among the older generation. These paradoxes are clearly visible in the figure of Jin Xing, the nationally beloved talk-show host sometimes called China’s Oprah: She is a transgender woman, and the reluctant face of trans China, but she also often espouses conservative gender norms, like the importance of a woman’s domestic role in childbearing and good housekeeping.
“China’s one-child policy further increased pressure on some gay Chinese to stay in the closet and enter heterosexual relationships, because parents pinned all their hopes on one child to provide genetic, legally recognized grandchildren to continue the family line. This emphasis on upholding traditional family and marital institutions has driven many Chinese to participate in xinghun — “cooperative marriages, ” often between a gay man and a lesbian, to keep up the appearance of heterosexual life. The internet has facilitated these arrangements, with websites like ChinaGayLes.com claiming to have arranged hundreds of thousands of marriages over the last decade.
Traditional LGBT Culture in China
“Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia” In China, historically, male homosexuality was tolerated without the threat of severe punishment. A far worse offense was celibacy. Chinese history, fiction, legends, and other written works, as well as oral communication such as jokes and slang, contain a great deal of information on male homosexuality. Many Chinese men from the southeastern provinces went to sea, engaging in fishing expeditions and trades. While they were away, their friendships would often include sexual relations and some loving partnerships. The men would visit young boys when they went into port, and some paid a "bride price" in order to "marry" these young boys. [Source:“Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia”, Haeberle, Erwin J., Bullough, Vern L. and Bonnie Bullough, eds., sexarchive.info]
The women left behind sometimes turned to one another, some taking vows to be lifelong spinsters and never to marry. Others would go through elaborate rituals to "marry" and engaged in sexual pleasures freely. These marriage rituals are not unlike those found around the world. It seems that telling not only one's partner, but also friends and perhaps family, that there is a firm commitment involved in one's relationship is important to most people, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.
In China, in both men's and women's cases, homosexual relations are often disguised as conventional family relations, such as brothers or sisters. This has been one acceptable way in which lovers could live together and maintain a common household. Homoerotic fiction has existed in China for centuries. Lesbianism in Asia can be traced back to as early as 520-480 B.C., when Buddhist nuns in India wrote lesbian love poetry. Rulers of Chinese states have been the subjects of legendary homoerotic tales of their loves. One emperor, Ai-di, who loved a young man, Tung Xian, cut off his sleeves, upon which the latter was sleeping, so he could arise without awakening his lover. The term duan-xiu ("cut sleeves") thus became another expression for homosexual love.
Many novels came out during the Ming and Quing periods in China that contained elaborate accounts of homoerotic behavior. Because many men were used to portray women in Chinese theater (as in Shakespearean), they were often the objects of male desire. In early Chinese poetry, it is often difficult to determine if the object of a man's love is a woman or another man. Many reviewers of later and more moralistic times rewrote the poems to make clear that the erotic desire was a heterosexual one.
As is the case in many urban areas, first homosexual experiences for Chinese youths often occur at their same-sex boarding school. These schools do not have a higher incidence of homosexuals attending them; they simply provide an environment that makes same-sex loves less traumatic for those who are so inclined. In 1982, the People's Republic of China Criminal Law Code did not expressly prohibit homosexual activities.
Lesbians in China
Lesbians in China today are even more closeted than gay males. (See also Xiaomingxiong - alias Samshasha, 1984, and Lau and Ng, 1989). When Ruan received letters from homosexuals all over China in 1985 and 1986, not one was from a woman. The only women who are willing to discuss their homosexuality are the few who have already been imprisoned for this behavior and have little to lose. An exception to the usual difficulty in locating lesbians is the experience of Chinese journalists He and Fang, who were actually more successful in contacting lesbians than gay males in their 1989 survey of homosexuality in China. They wrote six stories about lesbians compared to one about gay males. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]
He and Fang had to rely on interviews with women who were jailed for “sex crimes,” or crimes of violence inspired by sexual jealousy. Because so many investigations of female homosexuality are based on interviews with prisoners, it has been all too easy for Chinese people to develop a stereotype of lesbians as immoral, frustrated people (Sheridan and Salaff 1984). =
In early 1992, a new and more humane homosexual policy emerged. This started with two young lesbians in Wuwei County, Anhui Province, whose parents opposed their homosexual relationship very much. The angry parents finally reported the affair to the local police department. After several months of investigation, the police department of Wuwei County arrested these two female lovers and restrained them fifteen days on charges of “misconduct.” =
The Wuwei County police department then referred the case to higher institutions until the Public Security Department of Central Government in Beijing heard the case. The Public Security Department replied and instructed the county police that since under current laws there is no article that specifies punishment for such behavior and relationship, it could not treated as “misconduct.” Therefore, the Wuwei Police Department released the two women and let them live together as “husband” and “wife.” Usually the older woman takes the role of “husband,” and wears male clothing, while the younger one takes the role of “wife” and prefers to stay in the home. It is a very good signal to show that at least some police officers, especially senior ones, have started to change their attitude toward homosexuality and other sexual variations. But, recently a reversal still occurred. In May 1993, the government closed down the first gay saloon, “Men’s World,” in Beijing, which appeared on November 22, 1992, and came out in public on February 14, 1993. =
Views About Homosexuality in China
Homosexuality is still largely a taboo subject for discussion in China. Very few Chinese gays inform their parents and often bad things happen when and if they do. When one man revealed to his family that he was gay, his parents worried about who would take care of him in old age if he didn't father any children. If the parents do known they want their children to be discreet. Having an openly gay child is a real embarrassment.
A June 2013 Pew poll found that 57 percent of Chinese respondents say that “homosexuality should not be accepted by society.” In many fields, coming out would be the end of your career, she claims, and many officials believe that LGBT issues are not relevant to Chinese society.
According to one Hong Kong survey, 79 percent of the people asked said they believed that homosexuality was a condition that could be changed. Many homosexuals share this view. One gay man told the New York Times, "I think I'm missing a gland or something in my brain. I read in the newspaper that homosexuals are the same as everybody else except we are missing some gland."
Homosexuality was regarded as a mental disorder by the Chinese Psychiatric Association until fairly recently. Some gays who were taken to doctors by their parents have been given epilepsy medicine, which often has terrible side effects. In extreme cases gays have been sent to doctors for electric shock "treatments" that have left some impotent.
Gays in rural areas often discover their sexual identity and find partners without really realizing what they are doing and what it is called. "They just did it," reported outspoken gay writer Wu Chunsheng in his book “Dark Souls Under the Red Sun”.
A passage from the Chinese university textbook Survey of Britain and America (1994) reads: "Homosexuality is...widely spread. One reason for this may be despair in marriage or love affairs. Some people fail in marriage and become disappointed with it so they decide no longer to love the opposite sex, but instead begin to love a person of the same sex...Another reason may be that some people want to find and do something 'new' and 'curious.'...Through this we can see clearly the spiritual hollowness of these people and distortion of the social order.”
Transvestite shows are popular with Chinese tourist visiting Thailand’so much so in fact some Thai transvestites have been invited to perform in Chinese tourist spots.
Being LGBT in Asia: China Country Report
“Being LGBT in Asia: China Country Report” is a report published in August 2014 by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on the cultural, legal and social environment regarding LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) in China. According to the press release for the report: “While important progress has been made in recent years, being LGBT in China remains difficult. The first national report on LGBT issues in China commends positive steps such as the abolishment of laws used to intimidate LGBT people and the fact that homosexuality has been taken off the list of mental diseases. The report also highlights a positive growth in LGBT civil society, changing societal attitudes and a growing interest from academic institutions on LGBT-related research and policy discussions. [Source: “Being LGBT in Asia: China Country Report,” August 13, 2014]
“However, widespread stigma and discrimination against LGBT people persist, with predominantly negative societal attitudes towards sexual and gender minorities. Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is still common. Bullying and discrimination in schools is widespread, with 77 percent of LGBT students experiencing some form of discrimination. Anti-discrimination laws are needed to protect LGBT people.
“Societal and family pressures to conform push many LGBT people to hide their sexual orientation and enter into a heterosexual marriage or into “cooperation marriages” (known as Xing Shi Hun Yin in Chinese, or “marriage under cover”) with each other. Finally, censorship laws still ban homosexual content in any form in movies and television preventing a broader conversation on sexual and gender minorities in China. Access to mental health services and support is weak while ‘correction treatment’ and committal to psychiatric hospitals, often by family members, is still too common. LGBT organizations, while growing, are still extremely weak and unable to provide the support services needed by their communities.”
Research on Homosexuality and Bisexuality
In 2001, Hongling Wei, editor of Ren Zhi Chu (sexual education journal), estimated that about 36 million to 48 million mainland Chinese men, 3 to 4 percent of the population, were homosexual or bisexual (Personal communication to Ruan). [Source: Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M. P. Lau, M.D.,”International Encyclopedia of Sexuality”, edited by Robert T. Francoeur, Ph.d., and Raymond J. Noonan, PhD., Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004, online at the Kinsey Institute \^/]
According to the “International Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Research on homosexuality in China was pi o neered in the 1990s by three noted scholars. Dr. Yinghe Li, a sociologist of sex who studied at the University of Pittsburgh (USA), Dr. Beichuan Zhang, a researcher on same-sex love, and Professor Suiming Pan, a sociologist of sex and Director of the Institute for Sociology of Sex at The People’s University, Beijing. Dr. Li has interviewed and surveyed homosexuals and authored a monograph subculture of Homosexuality (1998, Beijing). Dr. Zhang wrote the most comprehensive academic Chinese monograph on Same Sex Love (1994, Jinan: Shangdong Scientific and Technic Press). In his early investigation of homosexual behaviors in 1997 to 1998, Dr. Zhang discovered that only one third of the over 400 homosexuals he interviewed used condoms. .\^/
1998 nationwide random investigation of sexual attitudes toward homosexuality among ordinary Chinese.
Homosexuality is immoral: A) 17.2 percent completely agree; B) 22.6 percent rather agree; C) 43.3 percent rather disagree; D) 13.6 percent do not agree.
Homosexuality is biological: A) 10.1 percent completely agree; B) 28.9 percent rather agree; C) 32.9 percent rather disagree; D) 23.3 percent do not agree.
Homosexuality is normal A) 5.5 percent completely agree; B) 12.4 percent rather agree; C) 26.6 percent rather disagree; D) 51.6 percent do not agree.
Gay marriage is OK: A) 4.5 percent completely agree; B) 6.3 percent rather agree; C) 20.2 percent 65.3 percent do not agree.
Homosexuality is an inversion: A) 52.2 percent completely agree; B) 30.8 percent rather agree; C) 10.0 percent rather disagree; D) 3.7 percent do not agree.
“In early 2001, the 8,000-member Chinese Psychiatric Association concluded that homosexuality is not a perversion and removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in its new diagnostic manual. The step added to a growing tolerance of gays and lesbians in China, where an underground culture of gay bars, websites, and sports clubs flourishes. Taking advantage of loosening social restrictions, gay couples now live together discreetly. In major cities like Shanghai, some musicians and artists are openly gay, Although many homosexuals endure harassment. The diagnostic manual retains an entry on homosexuality as a possible cause of depression, and other problems for patients who are uncomfortable with their orientation. Treatment can include therapy meant to change a patient’s orientation to heterosexual, but such therapy was rare in China.
Increased Openness About Homosexuality in China
Considering the many and varied records of homosexuality in ancient China, one would expect to find evidence of homosexuality in modern China. However, literature regarding contemporary homosexuality is scarce at best, although it is available in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Thus it was a genuine breakthrough when, through a rather unique and unexpected set of events, the situation of homosexuality in China was openly discussed for the first time in a positive context. In 1985, Ruan, the author of this chapter, using a pen name Jin-ma Hua, published an article in a widely circulated Chinese health magazine, To Your Good Health. The article pointed out that homosexuality has occurred in all nations, all social strata, and in all eras in human history, and that homosexuals deserve a reasonable social status. Many of the readers of To Your Good Health, most of them gay, wrote to the magazine’s editor in response to the article. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]
“By April 1986, a total of sixty letters had been received by the editor of To Your Good Health, and forwarded to Ruan. A striking aspect of the letters from gay men is their immense relief at having an opportunity to express their feelings. Many letters expressed their writers’ pain and conflicting desires for confidentiality and a chance to overcome their isolation. Clearly the chief source of pain for China’s gay men derives from the fear of societal punishment, including arrest, and possible sentence to labor reform camp or prison. =
The term "comrade" (“tongzhi”) doesn't necessarily refer to a loyal Communist anymore. These days it often refers to a gay person. The "comrade hotline,” for example, assists the gay and lesbian community. These days there are gay support groups and websites helping people to explore their sexuality and meet potential partners. There are gay venues in most major cities; last year, the first government-backed bar opened in Kunming, in south-western Yunnan.[Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, January 10, 2010]
For many, the biggest issue is invisibility. “People want to stay out of trouble so they stay away from anything different ... It's not necessarily that they're afraid of it or think it's bad. They just don't want to know,” a gat man told The Guardian, adding that a handful of friends cut him off after finding out that he was gay. [Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, January 10, 2010]
There is some degree of acceptance and tolerance. There is no religious condemnation and that anti-gay violence is rare. Research in cities by Li Yinghe, an academic at the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences suggests about 91 percent of people are happy to work with gay colleagues - a higher rate than in US surveys - and that 30 percent back gay marriage. [Source: The Guardian]
Toleration of Gays in China
There is no law against same-sex acts between consenting adults.In the 1980s, the Chinese Supreme Court took laws off the books that prohibited anal sex between consenting male adults. Two lesbians who were arrested by police in the Anhui province were later released under orders from the Public Security Ministry because they had not committed any crime.
In 1992, authorities allowed books about gay life to be published. They also permitted a gay activist to set up an AIDS telephone hotline but it was forced to close down a year later after the gay activist began speaking out about homosexual rights.
Laws decriminalizing homosexuality were enacted in 1997. Homosexuality was taken off the list of mental illnesses in 2001. In recent years homosexuality has become tolerated in some urban areas and gays are coming out in various ways in larger numbers. In Shanghai there is even an openly gay restaurant across the street from a police station. One 32-year-old gay man told the Washington Post, "No one bothers us anymore. As long as we're not disturbing anyone else, we can enjoy ourselves and the police will leave us alone."
In the early 2000s Fudan University in Shanghai began offering China’s first course in gay studies and a study by Zheijang University near Shanghai found that 60 percent of the people interviewed were tolerant of homosexuality. One sociologist told the New York Times, "People are busy, they're making money and they don’t care about your private life. Before people were idle and liked to tell you how to lead your life, but that's changed.”
There are several gay organizations in China. Gays reportedly are influential in the Beijing media and fashion scene. Coverage of gay life in Hong Kong and Taiwan sometimes makes its way to China, particularly southern China which picks up Hong Kong and Taiwan television channels. The coverage has exposed a relatively free gay life to ordinary Chinese and emboldened Chinese gays to be more assertive about their rights. Still, Chinese policy towards the gay issue for the most part remains the "three nos": no approval, no disapproval, and no promotion.
China’s LGBT Community Still Dealing with Intolerance — and Violence
In May 2018, two women handing out rainbow flag stickers during an event in Beijing’s famous 798 art district were hit by security guards, with one woman falling to the floor during the scuffle, according to videos that circulated online. Reuters reported: “The incident sparked widespread outrage amongst China’s LGBT community, with many casting it as just the latest in a series of measures tightening the space for LGBT content to be aired on television and discussed online. [Source: Christian Shepherd, Reuters, May 17, 2018]
“Hu Mianlin, a Beijing university student, told Reuters she took part because she thought it would be a more effective way to raise awareness than just writing articles online. “Even though there are a lot of LGBT people in China, we still don’t have rights to get married and don’t have official approval, ” she said.” Around the same time, “popular state-backed broadcaster Mango TV was stripped of its license to air the Eurovision Song Contest by the event’s organizers after censoring a semi-final performance that had what Chinese state media described as “LGBT elements”. The channel’s decision to cut the song, as well as to pixelate rainbow flags in the audience, was considered particularly shocking to LGBT advocates, as it had previously aired shows touching on LGBT issues.
Psychology textbooks in China still describe homosexuality as a mental disorder and Chinese courts have upheld the rights of publishers to make such a claim. The 2013 edition of “Mental Health Education for College Students, ” a widely used textbook, reads: “Compared with the sexual orientation of most people, homosexuality can be seen as a mental disorder or a confusion of sexual desires.” [Source: Sui-Lee Wee, New York Times, October 28, 2020]
Ou Jiayong, a lesbian and the person who took the textbook publisher to court, told the New York Times she humiliated during her freshman year of college when she participated in a debate about whether a gay couple could form a family. One classmate cited a psychology textbook to argue against same-sex marriage. Another asked Ms. Ou how she would feel if she were surrounded by gay people. “I’m gay, ” Ms. Ou said, as the classroom erupted in laughter. She recalled that a male classmate responded, “Whatever you say about your own life is meaningless, the textbook is right!”
Judge in China Rules Gay Couple Cannot Marry
In April 2016, a judge in Hunan Province ruled against a gay couple who had sought the right to marry, in China's first court case addressing the issue. Edward Wong and Vanessa Piao wrote in the New York Times: “The couple, Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang, filed a lawsuit against a civil affairs bureau in Changsha, Hunan Province, in southern China, after the office refused to grant them the right to marry when they tried to register in June 2015. In a surprising move, a district court accepted the case a few months earlier, the first time a Chinese court had agreed to hear such a lawsuit. An initial hearing scheduled for January was postponed.” When the court held a hearing, the judge issued a ruling a few hours later. [Source: Edward Wong and Vanessa Piao, New York Times, April 13, 2016]
“Mr. Sun said that he had argued that he and Mr. Hu should be allowed to marry since the law did not explicitly ban same-sex marriage. “We said this at the hearing, but they just kept repeating articles that mention ‘a man and a woman, ’ ” he said, referring to the civil affairs bureau. The bureau cited three articles from China’s marriage law and two from the official marriage registration regulation, he said, with four mentioning “a man and a woman” and one stating that a civil affairs bureau may refuse applications if it believes a couple is not qualified to marry. “But the fact that marriage between a man and a woman is legal does not suggest that marriage between two men is illegal, ” he said. “This is illogical. I asked them to name one article that explicitly bans marriage between two men, but they never answered my question directly.”
“Ms. compared the fight to her hobby of hiking. “How can you just quit? You can only continue walking, ” she said. “This is a path with no return.”The case has also received considerable attention on Chinese social media as a test of the authorities’ attitude toward same-sex marriage. Internet users said that although the result was unsurprising, the couple had achieved a big step. “In this era, being able to knock open the court’s door is already a victory. Keep going, ” a user with the handle Garden on the Roof wrote on Weibo.
“Mr. Hu, 37, a security guard, met Mr. Sun through a chat group in 2014. They said they did not spend a day apart after their first meeting. They tried to register their marriage on the first anniversary of their relationship. A lawyer for the couple filed the lawsuit with the Changsha Furong District People’s Court on Dec. 16. Court employees initially refused to accept the paperwork. But on Jan. 5, the court said it was accepting the case. The couple said that a pair of police officers visited them in December, telling them that a married couple had an important duty to have children. The parties spoke for 40 minutes. The officers told the couple they were not acting on behalf of the court.
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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated October 2021