A court in Beijng has ruled that marriages between women and gay men can end in annulment rather than divorce.
The First Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing has called for legislation on the matter, Xinhua state news agency reports.
The advantage of the proposals is that the women involved will be officially ‘single’ rather than a divorcee after the end of the marriage. The annulment option would only apply if the couple were childless.
China has an estimated 10 million ‘tongqi’ (gay wives, women who have unwittingly married gay men). These women are often left lonely and isolated as they have little understanding of their husbands’ sexuality.
‘Tabitha’ a volunteer counsellor for an online support communities for ‘tongqi’ women told Xinhua that divorced women over the age of 40 are stigmatized.
‘A divorced man in his 40s can still be sought-after and find a 20-something woman to marry. But when it comes to a divorced woman of the same age, that is absolutely not the case,’ said ‘Tabitha’.
Executive director of PFLAG (Parents and Friend of Lesbians and Gays) China Hu Zhijun (also known as Ah Qiang) wrote a blogpost saying that this legislation was not the solution to the problem, but efforts must be focused on ending social discrimination against gay people instead – and bringing in gay marriage.
‘The judge’s proposal is a complete "misdiagnosis" of the problem,’ said Hu, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
‘They’ve written a prescription without figuring out the root of the sickness. The tongqi problem needs to be solved, and it absolutely requires the adoption of a new law, but a law that allows gay marriage – that gives gay people the right to live with the people they love.
‘We also need to improve education for gay men and encourage them to be themselves. With reductions in bias and discrimination, gay people will naturally avoid entering into straight marriages.’