Homosexuality is no longer a taboo word in China, but same-sex marriage has yet to be approved by the Chinese law. While London provides freedom and tolerance for the couples, they have to make a choice between their lover and homeland.
“I never think about marriage, because I know it’s impossible for me to have our relationship accepted by the law and the public”, says Misa, 23 years old, international student from China, gay.
China disapproves same-sex marriage. The Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China explicitly defines marriage as the union between one husband and one wife. Even though it does not specify it as “one man and one woman”, none of the homosexual couples has been recognized by the law.
However, at the beginning of the New Year, the authority was challenged.
The gay lovers Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang sued the local civil affairs bureau for rejecting their marriage registration. A district court accepted the case, the first time a Chinese court had agreed to hear a law suit on same-sex marriage.
“Whether I want to marry or not, it should be my right to decide.” Mr Sun said.
WATCH: Couple behind China's first gay marriage case has a powerful message for the LGBT community. pic.twitter.com/ZzCko4RnLF
— Emily Rauhala (@emilyrauhala) January 27, 2016
Not every homosexual have the luck to be able to fight for their right. “At least Sun’s parents support him, that;s why he is brave enough to bring this case to public. But most of us are still hiding away from our family,” Misa said.
Wang Yang, an LGBT rights activists based in London explains the pressure the Chinese homosexual are under. “Family is the biggest difficulty. The social environment has become more tolerant now, but homosexual struggle from the first step before they really face the public – coming out to their parents.
“Filial piety is traditionally considered as the foundation of the family in Chinese culture, and having children is the duty for family members to practice the filial piety, which homosexual couple cannot do. Another reason is that the Chinese society is closely bonded together, people have less private space in the UK, so parents will be discriminated in the community if their children are found different from others.”
In order to pursue their true identity and love, an increasing number of Chinese homosexual choose to run away from the family, and Britain becomes the destination for many of them.
The Chinese Business Gazette revealed that in 2014, more than 300 Chinese same-sex couples applied for civic partnership with English, the figure doubled compared to that in 2012. This means at least one out of ten Chinese – English couples is homosexual couple.
Mr. Chen Qiyu, 36, a former middle school teacher in South China, married his English husband in 2013 and now loves in London. Three years ago, on the train he took students to internship in another city, he met Sam. In order to get married with his “prince”, he later applied for a master course in University of the Arts London. “We kissed each other at the airport, and I knew I couldn’t leave him anymore in the rest of my life.” Chen recalled their wedding, “None of my family showed up, but Inever expected they could accept us.”
The growing demand triggered the attention of the industry. The Law Firm Limited, which provided immigration assistance and services in London, has now been offering consultant to LGBT couples who want to apply for civil partnership in the UK. “The procedure is very complicated, you also need to present documents that can evidence the relationship, for example photos showing you living together or letters through which you come out with parents.” Amber Lau, personal adviser in the company explained the reason for the frequent inquiries from Chinese same-sex couples despite the high cost, which could add up to £1700.
The less wealthy do it in another way. Articles on Chinese internet titled “how to DIY civil partnership application in the Britain” often has hundreds of views, usually written by couples who have got married then stayed in the UK.
For some others, hometown is not easy to give up, as Misa said, “I will return to China after graduation.” Although he feels regretful “losing the freedom”, it is impossible to leave his parents behind, “if you can’t change the society, you have to adapt to it.”
This also means the uncertainty of the relationship between Misa and his partner, both of who has not come out with parents yet. “Future? I prefer focusing on the current.”
Wang Yang is concerned about this attitude shared by many homosexual. “Treating a relationship casually will affect their mental health, and results in short-sighted decision when making other important choices in later life.” She adds, “no one should live with the notion that he or she is not supposed to expect a lasting relationship.”
Three days before Valentine’s Day, a Chinese gay couple named Shen Kenni and Shen Yulun, famous for sharing their love stories on the social media Weibo, has announced wedding, which received wide support from the public. They also expressed the willingness of holding another wedding ceremony in China, and would invite 100 fans on location.
“We need more power from celebrities and media coverage.” Wang Yang said, “what’s important now is to normalize homosexuality.”