Mixed reactions to gay marriage push
LGBT groups call for equal rights as opponents worry about low birthrate
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.