30% OFF Pride collection code: USAPRIDE! Free Shipping over $99

Chinese Court Agrees to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Case; Unlikely to Lead to Change in Marriage Law

by HRC .com January 12, 2016

Chinese Court Agrees to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Case; Unlikely to Lead to Change in Marriage Law

Last week, several news sources reported that a court in China had accepted a same-sex marriage case on January 5. According to Reuters, Sun Wenlin filed the case against a civil affairs bureau in Hunan province after he was unable to marry his male partner.  The trial and the verdict will most likely occur within the next six months.

Many activists hailed the acceptance of Wenlin’s case as a momentous occasion for LGBT visibility in China. It is the first time a court has accepted a case of this kind.

However, Dan Zhou, a top legal expert and openly gay lawyer based in Shanghai, warned that the case is unlikely to lead to a change in the constitution, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However, unlike in many countries, same-sex marriage is not expressly forbidden in the constitution or the country's laws.

In a message to HRC, Zhou explained that the court is likely to dismiss the case based on its substantive claims. The Chinese legal system is not based on case law and courts do not have the power to conduct judicial review of the constitutionality of laws. 

“The existent political and legal regime in China does not authorize any court at any level to alter the constitution or legislation passed by the National People’s Congress,” Zhou said. “(Wenlin’s case) would not amount to unlawful omission under current administrative law.”  

The only way to achieve marriage equality in China would be to pass legislation in the National People’s Congress, which is not on its agenda at the moment.       

LGBT people in China are becoming increasingly visible and less marginalized and they are making important social and legal progress. Even though homosexuality is not illegal, it was only removed from the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders in 2001. LGBT people continue to lack any formal legal recognition or protections from discrimination from families, at school, at work and elsewhere. More information about the situation for LGBT people in China can be found in our Global Spotlight report LGBT China Today: Surprising Progress yet Daunting Obstacles.

HRC .com
HRC .com


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Think

This revealing picture of Justin Trudeau has gone viral for all the right reasons

by David Grant February 23, 2017

One more reason to admire Canada's PM.

Continue Reading →

If abortion is outlawed, LGBTQ rights are the next to go

by Derek de Koff February 23, 2017

How much credence should be given to Trump's well-documented, unambiguous promise to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Continue Reading →

Video of Melania recoiling from Trump’s touch has the Internet very concerned

by Graham Gremore February 23, 2017

Everyone's been talking about this clip of Melania Trump flinching at her husband's touch.

Continue Reading →