Could China be seriously considering gay marriage?
According to the Straits Times, there are rumblings of potential change on the horizon in China. The Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee has received more than 237,000 online suggestions and 5,600 letters. All of these messages have asked the committee to clarify the “scope of close relatives, improving the common debt of spouses and legalizing same-sex marriage,” according to a report by commission spokesman Yue Zhongming.
This is on top of several government-related accounts on Weibo, essentially China’s equivalent to Twitter, posted polls on Friday asking for public opinion on same-sex marriage. In addition, the National People’s Congress is preparing to update the civil code in 2020. There are currently questions on whether or not same-sex marriage will be discussed in those revision talks.
But despite this current interest by politicians to talk same-sex marriage, it’s unlikely that marriage equality will come to China anytime soon. After LGBTQ people and allies pushed for the legalization of same-sex marriage through the before mentioned petitions and letters, LGBTQ activists came to the realization that the country is just not ready for marriage equality. That said, they’re happy to get conversations started for the future.
“We know that it’s already the third draft and they will probably not include same-sex marriage, but at least we want to let lawmakers hear there’s a need among the LGBT community,” said Yanzi, director of Guangzhou-based LGBT Rights Advocacy China, in reference to the petition campaign and upcoming civil code revision.
In terms of both government policy and societal expectation, China is complex in its views of LGBTQ life and love. While the government and society presents a “live and let live” policy with LGBTQ citizens, the government has been aggressive in censoring gay content online and through media such as films. In addition, there have been cases throughout the years of disallowing LGBTQ people and allies from congregating out in the open.
That said, there is no law against being LGBTQ. In fact, China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from the official list of mental disorders in 2001. But despite that, it seems China is far from recognizing and respecting its LGBTQ citizens and peers. Though, these conversations are the first steps in getting there.