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Campaigners push for same-sex marriage in China as party official rejects change

Campaigners push for same-sex marriage in China as party official rejects change

China's National People's Congress.

A Chinese official has played down popular demand for marriage equality in China and said it will not happen.

But LGBT+ activists in China are using the opportunity to push harder for the change.

The official’s comments come as China holds meetings to enact its first civil code.

Last year the government asked the public what the code should say about marriage and the family.

They received 200,000 replies in just one month. However, the request to legalize same-sex marriage made up a massive 190,000 of those.

In response, Chinese officials – who have been reluctant to discuss LGBT+ issues in the past – surprised people by acknowledging the popular request.

At the time, that acknowledgment raised spirits among LGBT+ campaigners who felt marriage equality may be a step closer.

But now Huang Wei, an official with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, has undermined that optimism.

Activists will push government for change

As the legislature began its annual meeting in Beijing last week, Huang claimed the 190,000 letters had been ‘an organized act’.

She said: ‘The letters sent to us came in the same envelope, with the same content, and the online messages were the same. It’s all been copied and pasted.’

Moreover told Thepaper.cn the law would not change and marriage would remain ‘between a man and a woman’.

However, Sun Wenlin, co-founder of iFamily, a nongovernmental organization that promotes same-sex marriage in China, is not giving up.

Indeed, Sun says he and other activists are ramping up their efforts to secure change.

He told the South China Morning Post: ‘I think Huang was just using this as an excuse – “copied and pasted” or “organised acts”. These are not reasons to reject same-sex marriage

‘She should’ve talked about what research they did, what discussions and analysis there had been, and what kind of debates remained.

‘We’ll be sending more messages via the Communist Youth League, through channels that may reach the prime minister.’

The campaigners also intend to use the comment and social media channels of the official Chinese Xinhua News Agency.

Meanwhile they’ve set up a program on messaging app WeChat to allow people to hold a ‘virtual wedding’. It will generate invitations, photos and comments to advance the campaign.

Most Chinese people support same-sex marriage

The project to release the civil code has run from 2014 and already been through five rounds of review. However it is drawing to a close.

China’s ruling National People’s Congress will carry out a final review this year.

It comes as the Chinese public appear increasingly likely to support LGBT+ rights.

In December, Chinese news site ifeng.com polled 10million people. It found 66% of the respondents favored legalizing same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile the case of a Chinese mom fighting for access to the children she had with a previous female partner has both raised the importance of marriage rights and public sympathy.

Moreover, a new survey indicated a new generation is embracing LGBT+ identities. It found more than one in five Chinese university students aren’t straight.

The survey of 54,580 students discovered 8.92% are bisexual, 4.58% gay, 1.22% pansexual, 0.6% asexual, and 0.94% another sexuality. Meanwhile just 77.28% are heterosexual and 6.46% are not sure.