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Chinese Court Rules Against Marriage Equality

Changsa, Hunan, China.

CREDIT: Flickr user Michael Sean Gallagher.

Chinese courts addressed the issue of same-sex marriage for the first time in a court case in early April. The court ruled against a gay couple seeking to register for marriage.

A lawsuit was filed against local authorities in Changsha in the Hunan province in China after Sun Wenlin was unable to register to marry his partner Hu Mingliang and a district court accepted the case in January. A judge dismissed the case within hours in early April and Sun told news outlets that he planned to appeal the case after the ruling.

“Though it was dismissed by the court in Changsa, China’s first legal challenge to a law limiting marriage to opposite sex couples has galvanized many of the hundreds of young Chinese gay rights supporters who gathered at the courthouse, some of them waving small rainbow flags,” The Associated Press wrote of the emergence of LGBTQ rights supporters in China. “The hearing’s sizable public turnout and coverage by usually conservative Chinese media appeared to reflect early signs of shifting social attitudes in China on the topic of sexual orientation. Chinese society and the government have generally frowned on nontraditional expressions of gender and sexuality, but awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues is rising.”

The Chinese Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a mental disorder until 2001.

However, the same-sex marriage case has received plenty of coverage. China’s state-run newspaper People’s Daily even tweeted an image of Sun and Hu holding hands, following the ruling:

“Court in C #China’s Hunan on Wed ruled against a #gay couple in China’s first same-sex marriage case,” People’s Daily tweeted.

The United States legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June 2015, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in Obergefell v. Hodges.

However, the United States still has a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQ equality, especially with regard to transgender equality. For example, North Carolina passed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, also known as H.B. 2 earlier this year. The bill eliminates anti-discrimination protections for transgender and intersex people (among many other groups) and states that individuals must only use bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex or the sex appearing on the individual’s birth certificate. The bill prevents transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

Alexandra Kilpatrick is a reporter with Generation Progress.

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