LGBTQI activists have taken to the streets of Beijing to call for marriage equality.
In a Valentine's event sponsored by the Beijing LGBT Center
, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans campaigners held up placards with slogans like 'Let us taste the bitterness of marriage!', while dressed in full wedding regalia. They sought to remind their hundreds of millions of compatriots that, while China's heterosexuals are increasingly free to make their own life choices and marry for love, the country's queers are legally prohibited from doing so.
While the stunt earned some bewildered stares, activists also received a few welcome surprises, including a middle aged woman who reportedly cried out 'I support it!' in response to an exhortation for the Mainland to support marriage equality. With 20 countries and territories around the world having enshrined equal marriage in law, and with Taiwan possibly on the verge of passing its own legislation, many in China feel this is a civil rights issue that could benefit from a bit of gentle nudging.
'So many civil rights are tied to marriage,' said (straight) volunteer Meng Meng. 'Because of current legal restrictions, being unable to marry means that many of the property rights of sexual minorities are not protected.'
Trans campaigner Ka Ka added, 'It's really difficult for a trans person who has not fully surgically transitioned to change their legal identity, and impossible for them to marry. This has a huge impact on our lives.'
With a host of other rights and protections, including access to loved ones in hospitals, inheritance rights and the right to have children also limited or entirely absent without an equal marriage statute, the Beijing LGBT Centre is leading the charge in raising awareness of the challenges endured by queer Chinese, despite increased visibility in society, the media and public life.