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Court In China Accepts Gay Man's Lawsuit Demanding Marriage Rights

Chinese media say it's the first legal case to center on the rights of same-sex couples to marry: a gay man has sued a civil affairs bureau in Hunan province for rejecting his attempt to register his marriage to his boyfriend. A court accepted the case Tuesday.

The local court in Changsha, in central China's Hunan province, was responding to a filing made in December by Sun Wenlin, 26, who says an official in Changsha refused his application to marry his partner because their union wasn't between a man and a woman.

The police also came to Sun's house, he told China's Global Times, saying, "The officer kept emphasizing that it is important to have a child to carry on one's family name, but I can't abide by people imposing their values on me."

We should note that while the Global Times calls Sun's name a pseudonym, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal cite it as the man's actual name. Sun tells both of those news outlets that he's optimistic the court will rule in his favor.

Rights activists increasingly have been pushing for same-sex marriage to be legalized in China, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry. Less than a week after that decision last summer, a prominent lesbian couple held a public wedding ceremony in Beijing.

If you're wondering about attitudes toward homosexuality in China, consider that until 2001, it was deemed a mental disorder there. Two stories from last October suggest there's currently a wide range of thinking:

In the first story, the Chinese People's Daily ran a story under the headline "Top 10 Gay and Lesbian Celebrities in China." But weeks later, the same news outlet reported on a gay man who was committed to psychiatric care after he came out and sought to divorce his wife.

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