Gay Man Files a Lawsuit for Same-Sex Marriage in China

A gay man in China has filed the country's first lawsuit pertaining to same-sex marriage. But unlike many cases around the globe, 26-year-old Sun Wenlin (a pseudonym) doesn’t argue that existing laws are discriminatory.


Instead, he argues the law can be read as inclusive — it’s just being practiced in a discriminatory way.

"The original text of the marriage law does not say one man and one woman, but a husband and a wife," he told the Global Times, a Chinese state-owned newspaper. "I personally believe that this term refers not only to heterosexual couples but also to same-sex couples, to gay men and lesbians. The law is not discriminatory."

The gist of his argument is that "husband" and "wife" are gender roles and not necessarily gender-specific.

So, when Sun and his boyfriend decided to get hitched last June after a year of dating, he made his way down to his local civil affairs bureau to apply for a marriage license. Their application was swiftly denied, giving Sun everything he needed to file the potentially groundbreaking lawsuit.

He filed the suit at the local Furong district court in mid-December. Initially, he said, a court official rejected his documents, but eventually accepted them when Wenlin threatened to file a complaint.

The government could have stopped there, but according to Sun, it didn't: he says the police paid him a visit.

"The officer kept emphasizing that it is important to have a child to carry on one's family name, but I can't abide by people imposing their values on me," Sun says.

The court is expected to rule on the case within six months.

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