Mixed re­ac­tions to gay mar­riage push

LGBT groups call for equal rights as op­po­nents worry about low birthrate

Global Times - - Front Page - By Zhang Hui

Chi­nese in­ter­net users of­fered mixed re­ac­tions on Wed­nes­day to a gay cam­paigner’s call for pub­lic opin­ions on a draft civil code in an effort to push for the le­gal­iza­tion of same-sex mar­riage.

Sun Wen­lin, the first in the Chi­nese main­land who filed but lost a law­suit to regis­ter his same-sex mar­riage in 2016, posted on China’s Twit­ter-like Weibo on Tues­day de­tailed in­struc­tions on how to make sug­ges­tions for the civil code to le­gal­ize same-sex mar­riage, which was pub­lished on the web­site of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress to col­lect pub­lic opin­ions un­til Novem­ber 3.

Sun listed pro­vi­sions in the mar­riage and fam­ily sec­tion of the civil code, and sug­gested that de­scrip­tions of “moth­ers, fathers, sons and daugh­ters” be changed to “im­me­di­ate fam­ily,” say­ing it would be gen­der-neu­tral. He ap­pealed to more peo­ple who sup­port same-sex mar­riage to make sim­i­lar sug­ges­tions.

“I hope gay cou­ples can en­joy the same mar­riage rights, as we were blocked from many rights, in­clud­ing sign­ing for our part­ners for surg­eries,” Sun told the Global Times.

He also or­ga­nized an on­line sig­na­ture cam­paign to sup­port same-sex mar­riage, say­ing he had re­ceived over 20,000 sig­na­tures by 2 pm Wed­nes­day.

Sun’s ap­peal has gained sup­port on Weibo since Tues­day, and sup­port­ers even cre­ated a Weibo page en­ti­tled “Co-sign le­gal­iz­ing same-sex mar­riage,” which had been viewed over 43 mil­lion times as of press time on Wed­nes­day.

Many Chi­nese les­bian, bi­sex­ual, gay and trans­gen­der (LBGT) rights ac­tivists and or­ga­ni­za­tions ex­pressed sup­port.

“We pay the same tax and make the same con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try, but un­for­tu­nately can­not get the same rights. Yes, we want to live, and live with dig­nity. We sup­port same-sex mar­riage,” the Beijing LGBT Cen­ter said on Wed­nes­day as it re­posted Sun’s post.

How­ever, his post was also crit­i­cized by some net users who be­lieve that le­gal­iz­ing same-sex mar­riage could fur­ther drag down China’s low birthrate.

They also said Sun was in­fring­ing women’s rights, as he also sug­gested that the mar­riage age be low­ered to 18 and ex­pressed sup­port for sur­ro­gacy.

“Ne­ti­zens who sup­port same-sex mar­riage can­not rep­re­sent the whole Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion, as those keep­ing silent are the ma­jor­ity,” Peng Xiao­hui, a sex­ol­o­gist at Cen­tral China Nor­mal Univer­sity, told the Global Times.

Peng said that many Chi­nese peo­ple still con­sider LGBT peo­ple “sick,” and be­lieve same-sex mar­riage is bad for China’s tra­di­tional birth cul­ture.

“China’s LGBT rights groups should first pro­mote gen­der and sex-re­lated knowl­edge and not ap­peal for same-sex mar­riage,” Peng said.

Peng said that China’s top leg­is­la­ture may not adopt their ap­peal be­fore it gen­er­ates wide pub­lic sup­port.

Sun said he was aware of the dif­fer­ent opin­ions re­gard­ing his ap­peal, but will con­tinue his ap­peal to raise pub­lic aware­ness on same-sex mar­riage.

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