China's couple lose same-sex marriage case
Updated: 2016-04-14 08:24
By SHAN JUAN(China Daily)
Gay men vow to appeal after judge tosses lawsuit, the first of its kind
Two gay men who lost a court case on Wednesday in which they had battled for the right to marry have vowed to carry on the fight.
It was the first case of its kind in China in which gay people had tested whether same-sex couples have the right to marry. While homosexuality is not illegal in China, same-sex marriage has not yet been explicitly legalized.
The lawsuit was brought by the couple, who were challenging the decision of a local civil affairs bureau that had denied them the right to marry. The case was dismissed after an open hearing that lasted three hours and was held before an audience of nearly 200 people, including many journalists. The case was heard at a court in Furong district, Changsha city, Hunan province.
Sun Wenlin, the 26-year-old plaintiff, walked out of the court hand-in-hand with his partner, Hu Mingliang, and said he would appeal.
"We gave away our 'wedding' candies after the hearing and even the opposing lawyer took a candy with a smile," he said.
Sun had filed the case in December after he was denied the right to marry his 36-year-old partner. The couple had gone to the Furong district civil affairs bureau in June to register to marry but were rejected and told a legal marriage had to be between a man and a woman.
Sun disputed this in court, saying the Chinese term yifuyiqi, which means a husband and a wife in the marriage law, refers to the identity of the participants, not their gender.
But the judge said China did not have explicit laws concerning same-sex marriage and that a husband and wife could only be a man and a woman under the marriage law.
Shi Fulong, Sun's lawyer, said he would like to represent Sun when he appeals.
"Marriage is a basic right of all citizens, including homosexuals," Shi said.
Li Yinhe, a famed sociologist who is a prominent supporter of LGBT rights, said the fight to realize same-sex marriage would continue.
"The result is not surprising but the process will have inspired others to courageously recognize and strive for due rights, despite social discrimination and stigma," she said.
Li said Chinese tradition highlighting reproduction was the reason why marriage is considered to be an institution between a man and a woman in China.
Online, opinion about the lawsuit was largely skewed against the couple, with some labeling them "abnormal". Some netizens said they hoped such a high-profile court case would not encourage young people to "try homosexuality".
Sun said homosexuality was not a choice. "Unsubstantiated fear comes from ignorance," he said. "We are born this way."