PERSONAL NOTE: I DECIDED to share my book with my friends and students in mainland China because the book is not available in mainland China. It costs too much to order a copy from USA. Enjoy it and share it with your friends. Steve, usa, december 14, 2018
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No country in Asia has legally recognized same-sex marriages. So, what is going on in modern China?
According to the Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China, it defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. It does not recognize other form of civil union in the country. Yet, a photo of a male couple—the marriage of a 45-year divorced architect and a 27-year old demobilized soldier—appeared on the front page of January 13, 2010 China Daily. Not only the families of both men rejected it but also the Chinese government did not allow it. Communist China does not recognize same-sex marriage. Beijing, the capital of China, conducted a poll in 2009 and over 30% of its population supported same-sex marriage, while the rest were unsure or opposed to it. In December 2015, Sun Wenjin, a 26-year old man filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Furong District in Changsha, Hunan Province, when it refused to let him marry his 36-year old male partner. On April 13, 2016, hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters heard the Changsha court ruled against Sun. But nothing could stop him from marrying his partner on May 17, 2016 in a private ceremony in Changsha. Nothing could stop him from fighting for LGBT progress and gay marriage in China.
So what is happening on the national level? Lin Yinhe, a famous sexology scholar tried to introduce Chinese same-sex marriage bill as an amendment to the marriage law, but failed during the 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008 Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference because she could not find enough cosponsors for it to be placed on the agenda. In 2012, she tried a new campaign to get support for the same legislation. Whether on the national or provincial level, attempts to legalize same-sex marriage are not able to gain the support of the government. Even though the Ministry of Health has officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 2001, the citizens are still confronted with the “three nos” of the Chinese government towards homosexuality: “No approval, no disapproval, no promotion.” Why? The argument goes something like this: not all more liberal countries around the world have endorsed same-sex marriage, why should anyone expect China to accept it? We might consider it in the near future, but not now. We need more time to think about it.
Since July, 2013, Beijing provides dependent residency status to the same-sex foreign partners of legal foreign residents.What do the ordinary people think about same-sex marriage in China? Same-sex marriage is abnormal in most people’s views. Faced with the impact of Western open culture, many people’s sexual thinking is changing.
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Still, heterosexual marriage is the instinct of all creatures. If we disobey it, imagine the chaos in our society. The ratio of male and female in China is imbalanced and so many young men cannot find females to marry. Many females also cannot find the men to marry. So some people think same-sex marriages will be the solution. But will same-sex marriage be allowed by the government? The question is: the people or the government will decide this problem of the society?
On the campus, there are some gay rumors about students. Same-sex relationships definitely exist on the campus. But no gay couples have the courage to come out of the closet and declare themselves gay. They know what would happen to them because the school and the society are not ready for them.
China is not like many other Western countries. It is still a conservative nation. Legalization of same-sex marriage is completely contradictory to China’s traditional values. Most Chinese people view this as extremely unacceptable. Homosexuality, to the older generation, is a concept that defies understanding. People’s sexual orientation should be respected and understood. People’s resistance to homosexuality also needs to be respected. Legalization of same-sex marriage is foreign to the Chinese social system.
True, every person has the right to love other people, no matter the gender. Maybe if more people can see that the same-sex marriage couples can live a happy normal life or even a happier life, some worries or prejudices might slowly disappear. So give it a try. China is a developing country and many people are developing, especially their way of thinking about themselves and the world around them.
Why would some people think same-sex marriages could or might influence their lives? It seems absurd. Why would you reject happiness of other people different from you? There are many people in the world who have choosen same-sex marriages and they are common people like you. We should learn to understand them and accept their freedom and their choice.
China is a traditional country and that means the conservative thoughts of people are firm and cannot be changed easily. They are troubled by the fact people in same-sex marriages will not be able to produce babies, like normal couples. Parents want a grandchild from you. How do you intend to have a baby, from a same-sex marriage?
Legalizing same-sex marriages will greatly contribute to the harmony of the society since some homosexual people commit suicide because of all the discrimination and humiliation they suffered. Not everyone will share this view.
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Are we living in an open-minded society? Are we? Where everyone is free to do things legally without hurting others? Should people with same-sex love be respected because everyone is born equal? That they have the rights to love who they love, even if the people they love are of the same sex? And if their love is genuine, should they have the right to marry each other and be respected by other people? Is this simple enough for everyone in China to understand? Obviously not, because many continue to struggle with these basic questions in the ever-changing society in modern China.
Did we have a chance to choose whether we are a boy or a girl? No! Do we have a chance to choose the person we love? Yes and no. Is it important the person we love is a man or a woman? It is important that we are a perfect match for each other and this should be the only reason we get married. But gender matters!
You love your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you can’t marry him or her, what will you do? Imagine two people love each other but they cannot marry each other. What a pity, because your government does not allow you to marry him or her.
It is a trend that same-sex marriages have become global with the United States joining 20 other countries in the world on June 25, 2015 to allow same-sex marriages. And this is considered a process of progress in the world. In a word, unavoidable, some would say. We can see them on TV programs, the news on WeChat or Weibo. What’s more, people are becoming more open minded. More and more people accept these new kinds of marriages. Does it mean China is backward, and not as progressive as America? Think of the fact China is a member of WTO or World Trade Organisation, but China is not ready to join 21 other countries to declare same-sex marriage.
A student said: “One day during the holidays I was visiting my grandparents. They asked me what was going on in my life. I decided to tell them the American government support same-sex marriages. They were shocked and remained speechless for a while. Then grandpa said, ‘That’s bullshit, it will never happen in China.’ It is hard for the older people, including my own parents, to change their way of thinking.”
Everyone has the rights to decide who they want to love: black, white, yellow or brown, old or homeless. Same-sex marriages can provide gay security. Everyone should experience some kind of marriage in their life. And gays have the same rights as others. Now China is more open, and we accept and absorb different kinds of cultures from other countries. We should not only have an eye on the economy and politics, but also on the culture, learning the rights of other peoples. This is how foreign cultures are influencing us in China. Same-sex marriage will happen in China.
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China has 56 ethnic groups and all have their own traditions and beliefs. It’s hard to convince all of them to agree on same-sex marriages. There are bigger problems for the Chinese government to solve and marriage equality is the least important matter. Almost all the 21 countries that have adopted same-sex marriage laws could be considered advanced, developed countries, while China is a developing one, still considered a third world country. So if China could do that, it will enter a new stage in our social development and gain greater international status. China has made much progress economically and politically and socially in recent years. China isn’t the country it used to be. Now China plays a pivotal role in the world. All the progresses provide open-minded thinking and also tolerance for the younger generation. In other words, China is experiencing a big change in social mores. The social media, the internet as well as social networks become more pervasive in China, and many people now have access to all kinds of information and news about the LGBT communities across the world. More and more people are standing up and supporting the same-sex marriages. But how many will do it?
One day I read an incredible story of a woman who decided to bring her husband to court and ask for financial compensation because he did not marry her for love and sex but as a cover-up for his homosexual life-style. The court ordered the man to pay his wife for lying to her that he was a homosexual and for failing to consummate the marriage. He gave her a handsome sum of money and they divorced.
In a news report “Wives in sham marriages hidden in the shadows” in China Daily on April 22, 2016, Zhang Beichuan, a retired professor with the Medical School of Qingdao University, and a pioneering researcher on LGBT issues, says that, “At least 14 million straight women in China are currently, or have been, trapped in false marriages with men who are gay.” The phenomenon of Tongqi (wives of male homosexuals) has been going on for some time because many gay men used the marriage of convenience as a buffer between themselves and the family and the society which refuses to recognize same-sex marriage. Now more Tongqi are not willing to suffer the physical and mental plight as a result of dishonest gay men. Many now felt deceived into such bitter relationships and a lifetime of woes by gay men. One woman complained: “When we’re alone, he’s not willing to get close to me or touch me. I thought I had done something wrong. That has been a huge blow to me in the past decade.”
Zhang believes about 80 percent of the estimated 20 million homosexual men in China are currently or have been in a sham marriage. A moderator of a tongqi group on QQ put forward two reasons for this sham marriage. Firstly, homosexuality carries a strong stigma in China. Secondly, a gay man needs a child to inherit the family’s
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fortune, because of our strong traditional filial ethics. So some women need the men to give their children a stable family and will not seek for divorce. Few would choose for their children to grow up without a father or in a dysfunctional family. The law in China does little to help the tongqi. Zhang attributes “A lack of sex education in Chinese schools has contributed to the tragedy of tongqi and the hostile social attitudes towards gays.” In his view, if more people would tolerate and respect same-sex marriages, “the tongqi tragedy could be terminated”.
What do my students on the campus think about same-sex marriage in China? Their opinions are also very divided, reflecting what others in the society are thinking: some support it, some are against it, some are not sure, and most are waiting for their government to do something about it, in the very near future.
For most students, marriage is something personal, between two people, and it is none of your business. This is China.
Same-sex marriage is legally recognized (nationwide or in some parts) in the following countries (alphabetically): Argentina, Belguim, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.
In April 18, 2013, The Sydney Morning Herald reported a famous speech delivered by Maurice Williamson, then an MP in the New Zealand parliament in support of Marriage Equality Bill. With a great sense of humor, he said, “I have had a reverened in my local electorate call and say that the gay onslaught will start the day after this bill is passed. We are really struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like…. I also had a Catholic priest tell me that I was supporting an unnatural act. I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life.” I could not imagine the laughter coming from fellow MPs hearing what he has to say. “I also had a letter telling me that I would burn in the fires of hell for eternity.” He admitted there was opposition from the moderates, that people were concerned and worried about what this bill might do to them, their families and the fabric of the society.
Let the rest of the speech speaks for itself, and you might understand why the New Zealand parliament adopted the Marriage Equality Bill after this funny, humorous speech by MP Maurice Williamson.
“Let me repeat to them now that all we are doing with this bill is allowing two people
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who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage. That is all we are doing. We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign state. We are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agricultural sector forever. We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognized, and I cannot see what is wrong with that for neither love nor money. I just cannot. I cannot understand why someone would be opposed. But I give a promise to those people who are opposed to this bill right now. I give you a watertight guranteed promise. The sun will still rise tomorrow. Your teenage daughter will still argue back to you as if she knows everything. Your mortgage will not grow. You will not have skin diseases or rashes, or toads in your bed. The world will just carry on. So do not make this into a big deal. This bill is fantastic for the people it affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.
“Finally, can I say that one of the messages I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought—this bill was the cause of our drought. Well, if any of you follow my Twitter account, you will see that in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate.
It has to be a sign. It has to be a sign. If you are a believer, it is certainly a sign. Can I finish—for all those who are concerned about this—with a quote from the Bible. It is Deuteronomy. I thought Deuteronomy was a cat out of the musical Cats, but never mind. The quote is Deuteronomy 1:29: ‘Be ye not afraid.’”