First lawsuit challenges Chinese same-sex marriage ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

What is believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind has been filed, challenging China’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Filed by a gay man in Changsha, the lawsuit names a civil affairs bureau in the capital of the Hunan Province, for refusing to receive his marriage registration application.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first to challenge the lack of equal marriage in China.

The man, who used the pseudonym Sun Wenlin, applied for the marriage licence on 23 June at the civil affairs bureau in the Furong district.

The couple had been together for one year.

However, the man says that officials at the bureau stated that “only one man and one woman” can register to marry, and refused to accept the registration.

“The original text of the marriage law does not say one man and one woman, but a husband and a wife. I personally believe that this term refers not only to heterosexual couples but also to same-sex couples, to gay men and lesbians. The law is not discriminatory,” Sun told the Global Times.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, and the court will decide within seven days whether to accept the case.

He alleges that the official eventually “reluctantly” accepted the case after Sun threatened him with a complaint, but that he never got confirmation that it had been accepted.

His lawyer, Shi Fulong, said the actions went against regulations for those situations.

A lesbian couple threw a wedding ceremony in Beijing a day after the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage, despite police warnings.

Although not recognised under Chinese law, Ling Jueding, 34, and Gino, 27, decided they wanted to celebrate their love for each other by hosting the ceremony in front of friends and family – despite severe police warnings and a lack of support from the local community.