- A groundbreaking court case between two moms is shining a harsh light on China’s ban on same-sex marriage.
A Chinese lesbian mom is fighting for access to her children in a battle that highlights the problem of same-sex marriage being banned in the country.
Zhang Peiyi, who lives in Shanghai, split with her wife last year. The pair had two children between them. However, the partner has stopped speaking to Zhang and taken the two toddlers away – without telling her ex where they are.
The two women are married but only in the United States. Meanwhile China doesn’t recognize their relationship.
Moreover, the biological parentage of the children is complicated.
The pair went to the US to use fertility services. Zhang’s partner provided eggs for the embryos for both children. Then both she and Zhang carried a separate embryo to full term.
Now Zhang wants custody of the child she gave birth to and visiting rights for the other toddler.
So she has filed a case in the province of Zhejiang in the east of China. However it is not clear how Chinese law will help her. The court has accepted the case but not yet begun hearings.
Chinese public back same-sex marriage
Meanwhile Zhang’s court battle has attracted media attention and hundreds of millions of views on social media.
It comes at a time when China’s government seems more sympathetic to same-sex marriage equality.
In late 2019, the country’s top legislative body allowed the public to make suggestions for an updated draft of China’s Civil Code.
Nearly 200,000 people sent feedback in just one month. And over 190,000 of them made the same proposal: legalize same-sex marriage.
Moreover, in December, Chinese news site ifeng.com polled 10million people and 66% of the respondents favored legalizing same-sex marriage.
And Zhang told Reuters that same-sex marriage would also be the key to her case. She said:
‘The focal point is how can you determine who is a child’s mother. But if you consider that there are two mothers, then it will return to the issue of same-sex marriage.
‘You may feel like it wouldn’t happen very quickly, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything.’
She accepts marriage equality won’t happen overnight. However, her case will again shine a spotlight on the challenges LGBT+ people face in China.