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China Parliament stands firm against same-sex marriages

2019-08-22

People celebrate after in Taipei Taiwan's parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage on May 17, 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan. In the Chinese mainland, Parliament stands firm against the idea. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

They don’t.

China has ruled out the recognition of same-sex marriages, a top Chinese official said on Wednesday.

Responding to a journalist’s question about marriage equality, Zand Tiewei, the spokesman for the legal affairs commission of the Chinese Parliament, put an end to any speculation regarding the official position of the world’s most-populated country on the legal meaning of marriage.

Despite facing pressure from LGBTQ rights groups, who felt emboldened by a May decision by Taiwan’s parliament legalizing same-sex unions in the self-governing island, Tiewei made clear that in the Chinese mainland marriage is only defined as an union between a man and a woman.

“This rule suits our country’s national condition and historical and cultural traditions,” he said, according to Reuters. “As far as I know, the vast majority of countries in the world do not recognize the legalization of same-sex marriage.”

In May, thousands of marriage equality advocates took to the streets of Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, to celebrate the historic moment of the island becoming the first place in Asia to fully legalize same-sex unions.

Pressure mounted on China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, and equality activists started pressuring people to propose amendments to a draft civil code, but without achieving much success.

The code will make changes on issues such as sexual harassment and divorce, according to Reuters, but it doesn’t address LGBTQ issues. Tiewei said that the marriage section, which is expected to pass into law next year, maintains the bond as being between a man and a woman.

“I feel that my partner and I are sacrificing our happiness for the country’s legal system,” LGBTQ rights activist Sun Wenlin told the news agency. “They are undermining our life plan of choosing to marry the person we love,” said Wenlin, whose marriage application to marry his partner was rejected by a Chinese court.

China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, and it removed it from an official list of mental disorders in 2001, according to Chinese online magazine Sixth Tone.

Earlier this month, Beijing approved the first “mutual guardianship” between a same-sex couple. The guardianship process, considered as a move in the right direction in LGBTQ rights, allowed a same-sex couple who was married overseas to be named each other’s legal guardians, the South China Morning Post reported.