Chinese women 'silently suffering' gay marriage
According to a leading expert, approximately 16 million women in China are married to gay men
Prof Zhang Beichuan, a leading expert from Qingdao University in China's eastern Shandong province, claims that almost 16 million Chinese women are married to gay men.
Prof Beichuan, celebrated as China's prominent researcher of AIDS and HIV (winner of the 2000 Barry & Martin Prize awarded to individuals making outstanding contributions to the AIDS awareness campaign) told the state-run China Daily about 90% of gay men marry due to traditional, family or social pressure.
'But their wives are struggling to cope and their plight should be recognised,' he explained.
Xiao Yao, a 29-year-old magazine editor who separated from her gay husband in 2008 told press 'most gay men's wives I've known are silently suffering at the hands of husbands who could never love them.'
With a population of over 1.3 billion people, according to the 2010 Chinese Census conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, China's LGBTI communities have only recently began to come out of the woodwork.
Celebrating their first National Festival in 2005, it's unsurprising that in a country long associated with closed attitudes to alternative lifestyles, many gay people remain in the closet.
However, after the publication of Prof Beichuan's claim, it seems the openly gay Chinese community is divided on the subject.
Xiao Dong, a 36-year-old homosexual who runs a civil organization for HIV and AIDS prevention control opposes the statement: 'Zhang's estimation is unsubstantiated and I even feel it's pointless to research the issue.
'To put gays' wives under the spotlight might cause more public misunderstanding or even hatred toward the gay population, which does not help defuse existing social discrimination against them.'
Meng Lin, a 50-year-old man from Beijing, believes that Zhang's estimation is reasonable.
'I myself almost married a woman many years ago, but finally gave up when I learnt I was HIV positive. Gay men and gays' wives are both victims of social discrimination and stigma, so we should not simply blame one party.'