China finally takes small step towards recognising same-sex marriage

China Pride run same-sex marriage LGBT economy

China has taken a small step towards recognising same-sex marriage, and activists in the country are tentatively optimistic.

A body of the county’s highest level of state power, the National People’s Congress, has publicly acknowledged petitions to legalise marriage equality.

It was reported on the Chinese news site Ifeng that Yue Zhongming, spokesman for the commission for legislative affairs of the National People’s Congress standing committee, acknowledged for the first time petitions from the public to legalise same-sex marriage at a press conference.

He said that the commission had received more than 230,000 online suggestions and letters supporting marriage equality being written into the country’s civil marriage and family code.

Gao Qianhui, 21, a lesbian in Shenzhen told NBC: “It felt unreal… It’s most likely not going to be realised in the near future, but the fact this topic is now publicly and officially on the table gives the LGBT community hope for the first time after years of hiding and struggling.”

Homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997 but the subject is still taboo in many areas, and a human rights report in November 2019 showed that LGBT+ people in China are being forced to undergo so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in at least 96 public hospitals and unlicensed centres.

Peng Yanzi, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, also told NBC: “We were very happy, pleasantly surprised by the news. As the country becomes stronger economically, its civilisation must also keep up.

“The important thing is that it’s no longer possible for society to stay where it was 10 years ago.”

Peng added that the acceptance of same-sex marriage among young Chinese people has “exceeded” the imagination of lawmakers.

A poll conducted by Ifeng with more than eight million respondents so far shows that 63 percent of people in China support legalising same-sex marriage.

Censorship of LGBT+ issues has long been a problem in China, and a significant number of films LGBT+ themes – such as Brokeback MountainCall Me By Your Name and Deadpool – are banned entirely.

But last month it was revealed that the historic same-sex kiss in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has not been censored in China, despite the country’s previous record of suppressing LGBT+ content.