News / Asia

Gay Activists Press for Rights in China

Homosexuals Press for Rights in Chinai
May 13, 2013 3:11 PM
While the United States Supreme Court considers whether gay men and women have the right to marry, debate on the issue also is growing in China. From Beijing, Shannon Van Sant reports for VOA on gay rights activists in that nation, who increasingly are vocal about the right to marry and live free from discrimination.
Shannon Van Sant
While the United States Supreme Court considers whether gay men and women have the right to marry, debate on the issue also is growing in China. Gay rights activists in that nation increasingly are vocal about the right to marry and live free from discrimination.  
Xiao Tie works at Beijing’s LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] center, working to end discrimination against homosexuals in China. Last February the battle became personal, when Xiao tried to marry her partner, Elsie Liao. She went to the local Civil Affairs Bureau to apply for a marriage certificate.
“When we went to register, the local officer was a man, he was very impolite and very bad to us. He kept saying ‘it’s not possible, the marriage law says no’ and told us to go elsewhere. But when we decided to do that we knew it would never happen, our main aim was to express our need," she said.
Xiao is part of a growing gay rights movement in China. The Chinese government decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 2001. Ah Qiang, who leads a Guangzhou-based NGO representing parents of gays and lesbians, visited Beijing with two of the parents from his organization.
One mother, who declined to give her name, said she had difficulty accepting her son’s homosexuality.
“When my son was at middle school I already felt he wasn’t like the others. But as a mother I didn’t dare to think my son was homosexual. I didn’t have the guts to go ask him, because I was afraid he would think I knew and he didn’t need to change. I thought he was still young and immaculate, he could still be changed,” she said.
In time, both she and another mother not only embraced their children’s sexuality, but became gay rights activists themselves.
They signed an open letter from 100 parents of gays and lesbians to China’s National People’s Congress, urging the Chinese government to adopt same-sex marriage benefits. Authorities never responded.
“Our homosexual children are in no way different to straight people. We also want them to have a stable family life. We ask the government to design such a law to give them this right,” she said.
Many families expect their children to marry and continue the filial line.  China’s one child policy only increases that social pressure. But Xiao and other activists say they want to be treated the same as heterosexuals - in the workplace, at home with their families, and have the right to marry the person they love.

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Comment Sorting
by: ferdie from: saudi arabia
May 14, 2013 12:44 AM
im agree with that human have right to choose his patner for a long life.... gay and men have right to have a marriage between them.... law have no business if what the human need in happy life

by: WillSmith007 from: Japan
May 13, 2013 11:22 PM
As far as I know, not only in China or America but also in many different countries and regions, LGBT communities are trying to make the gay marriage law be legal. I know that there are challenges and difficulties, but people don't abandon, and keep going for what they deserve to have. We're born in the world, in the place we call "the Earth", "we" here should be treated equally without any discrimination. I dream of a day everybody will live happily, live the life they love.

by: Aie from: China
May 13, 2013 12:38 PM
Suprised that VOA will care it. American themselves debate fiercely about it. Nevertheless, I wish the law could pass as quick as possible( maybe I cannot witness it within my life's reach ) . But if my boyfriend's mom demands a grandchild, what could I say? Maybe, if only he is as persistent as me. But in China, being childless means simply trouble.

I suggest the title modified: Gay people demand rights in no-gay-marriage nation all over the world.

Actually Chinese gay people enjoy a relatively free phenomenon thanks to the Internet spread. "Gay friends" in Chinese language nearly refer to all best male friends. However, the discrimination still exists deeply on the roots of older generation and some of the younger. But generally the situation is improving. Only marriage is still a big problem.

I think the best solution is to allow gay people get married without interferring with the definition of marriage. You can surely say marriage is between a man and a woman, only if you grant us the same rights as a man-woman couple.

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