Is China Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage?

Officials have acknowledged a stream of output from the country's citizens urging lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in a new civil code

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Dec 21, 2019 2 mins read

Officials have acknowledged the stream of output from the country’s citizens, urging lawmakers to legalize same sex marriage in the new civil code.

A spokesperson for the legislative affairs commission of China’s top legislative body reported that they had received 237,057 online suggestions and 5,635 letters, with same-sex marriage legalization among the top requested items.

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This year, activists and citizens acted on a greater scale than ever before. Group demonstration and outward activism have proven difficult in China, and members of the public are increasingly turning to official channels in order to make their opinions known. In 2019, the number of suggestions under the category of Marriage and Family was the greatest under any section of the Civil Code. The news comes on the heels of a rare and significant case for trans rights.

“A lot of people told me that this is the first time they’ve participated in the legal process,” said Peng Yanzi, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, one of several groups pushing a campaign for grassroots participation.

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Still, the fight for same-sex marriage rights might still have a long road ahead. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997 and removed from China’s official list of mental disorders in 2001, but an absence of legislation and official policy leaves LGBTQ individuals unprotected against discrimination and unspoken for in issues of civil law. Meanwhile, the majority of China’s citizens, especially those outside first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing, are only now beginning to understand issues of LGBTQ rights.

Nonetheless, this grassroots movement and resulting acknowledgment from legislative officials is an incredibly meaningful moment for the country’s LGBTQ community and its allies.

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