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Chinese Parents of Gay Children Call for Equal Marriage Rights

More than 100 parents of gays and lesbians from different parts of China have sent an open letter [zh] to delegates of China’s National People’s Congress asking the government to legalize same-sex marriage.

The letter, published with the help of the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays affiliate in China, details the difficulties gays and lesbians experience in China and the anxieties this causes for the parents of gay children. About 60 million homosexuals live in China, about 4 percent of the population, according to the letter:

我们的孩子有些跟同性伴侣已生活了近10年,他们相互照应,相亲相爱,却不能在另一伴生病需要手术时合法签字。身为同性恋者的家长,我们时常感到焦虑,因为不能合法结婚,我们孩子在领养下一代、生病手术签字、继承伴侣财产、甚至买房等各方面都受到不同程度的影响。

Some of our children have been living together with their partners for nearly 10 years. They love each other and take care of each other, but can’t even sign legally as a family member when their other halves are sick and need an operation. We often worry about this. The fact that they can’t legally marry puts them in a difficult situation when they try to adopt children, sign for their partner's operations, inherit assets from a deceased partner, or even buy an apartment.

The news of the letter came after two Beijing lesbians were not allowed to register at a marriage registry earlier in the week.

Gay marriage has since become a hot topic on the popular Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo. A search of “gay marriage” yielded [zh] 22,994,467 discussions on the afternoon of February 27, 2013.

A lesbian couple holding a sign that says "we want to get married." (A screenshot from youku)

A lesbian couple holding a sign that says “we want to get married.” (A screenshot from youku)

The National People's Congress is scheduled to convene for its annual session on March 5, 2013. Although none of the congressional delegates have commented yet, many Chinese intellectuals think it's encouraging to witness open discussion about the topic.

Lawyer Yuan Yulai commented [zh]:

看来,中国确实已经不是原来的那个中国。

Looks like China is indeed no longer what it was before.

Famous columnist Lian Peng wrote [zh]:

看到@新华视点 发的呼吁关注同性恋群体的微评,以及@头条新闻 将南都“百余名同性恋父母致信人大代表呼吁修改婚姻法”推为首条,感觉很温暖。中国同性婚姻之路任重道远。不管你是否赞同,要知道性取向不依人意志为转移的,对于别人的不同要学会尊重、理解和包容,这样的社会才是真正自由和宽容的社会。

Having noticed that on Weibo Xinhua News called for more attention to the gay community, and that Sina news picked up “the open letter” as the top news, I feel it's a positive sign. There’s still a long way to go on the road of gay marriage, however, whether you agree or not, you should know that sexual orientation doesn’t change according to one’s will, for those who are different from us, we should learn to respect, understand and tolerate, this kind of society is a truly free and tolerant society.

Li Mu, another Chinese columnist living in Canada was very optimistic [zh]:

同性婚姻合法化,在中国只是时间问题。

Same-sex marriage will be legalized in China, it’s just a matter of time.

However, some netizens expressed sharp criticism towards gay marriage. Lu Qi, editor of a history websiteurged [zh] for a ban on gay marriage:

中国早在商周时期就已有禁止“比顽童”(同性恋)的律法,同性恋的发展表明人类社会的发展和稳定受到严重危害。在中世纪欧洲,凡是同性恋者均会被处以极刑。如今在我国,随着男女比例的日益加大,同性恋现象的日益严重,立法禁止同性恋已经是迫在眉睫的大事。禁止同性恋、让父母不再蒙羞是我们的呼唤。

As early as the Shang and Zhou dynasties, there have been laws against homosexuals. The development of homosexuals has showed that it can harm the stability of society. In medieval Europe, all homosexuals were sentenced to severe punishment. Today in our country, with the widening of the male and female ratio and the growth of gay community, passing a law to ban gay marriage is an urgent issue. It is our call to ban gay marriage and make the parents no longer feel ashamed.

It's not the first time the issue of gay marriage has been brought to the table in China. As early as 2007, a survey done by sexologist Li Yinhe showed [zh] that in China's middle- and large-sized cities, more than 80 percent believe homosexuals are created as equal as heterosexuals. In March 2012, 10 parents of Chinese homosexuals wrote to China’s top legislative and political advisory bodies to call for legislation criminalizing discrimination against gays.

A recent estimate by leading sexologist Zhang Beichuan claimed that approximately 10 million homosexual individuals in China are married to heterosexual partners, and that nearly 80 to 90 percent of gay men are already married to or will eventually marry heterosexual women.

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