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Judge in China Rules Gay Couple Cannot Get Married

On Wednesday, a judge in China's Hunan province ruled against a gay couple’s request to marry in the country’s first legal challenge on same-sex marriage.

On Wednesday, a judge in Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan province, ruled against a gay couple’s request to marry in the country’s first legal challenge on same-sex marriage.

27-year-old Sun Wenlin and his 37-year-old partner, Hu Mingliang, tried to register to marry on their first anniversary at Changsha City Furong District Civil Affairs Bureau in June 2015, but an employee at the bureau refused to issue a marriage registration on the grounds that Chinese law did not permit same-sex marriages, prompting Sun to take legal action in December last year.

Supporters line up to attend a court session where a gay couple is expected to argue in China’s first gay marriage case (AP Photo/Gerry Shih)

On Jan. 5, Sun and his partner Hu, were told that that the legal case had been accepted by the Changsha district court, the first time a Chinese court had agreed to hear such a lawsuit.

However today, a judge at the Changsha’s Furong District courthouse ruled against the couple’s request to be legally married, saying Chinese law requires that only a man and a woman may marry.

Sun Wenlin, right, and his partner Hu Mingliang leave the court after a judge ruled against them in China's first gay marriage case in Changsha in central China's Hunan province on Wednesday. Sun Wenlin, right, and his partner Hu Mingliang leave the court after a judge ruled against them in China's first gay marriage case (Gerry Shih/The Associated Press)
Sun Wenlin and his partner Hu Mingliang leave the court after a judge ruled against them (Gerry Shih/The Associated Press)

After the hearing, Sun told reporters that he would appeal the decision and vowed to continue his quest for the right to marry.

“We will continue to appeal. I think it is worthwhile. It catches people’s attention and it will help our opinions spread,” Sun said.

“All I need is freedom and equality. What we are trying to achieve is freedom and equality,” he added.

The couple’s lawyer, Shi Fulong, said he expected the judge would rule against them, but not within just a few hours after the hearing.

“It goes against the spirit of the laws of the people’s republic of China,” Shi said.

Sun said the case had cost him and his partner around $1,200 so far, nearly three times what each of them earns in a month.

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Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang outside court (ITV News)

“I don’t expect China to legalize same-sex marriage anytime soon.

“Same-sex relationship is outside the core value of the generation that is running China’s government.

“Perhaps the situation will change when a younger generation enters the political stage as the generation born in the 80s and 90s are much more open, accepting and worldly.

“Homosexuality is no taboo or anything strange to this generation of people.”

– Zhao Xing, Shanghai-based LGBT columnist

(Image: Gerry Shih/The Associated Press)

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