By Beth Main
China’s women should be allowed to annul inadvertent marriages to gay men, said a Chinese court, as long as there are no children involved. The news has naturally set conservatives on edge but tickled the fancy of women’s right groups.
The First Intermediate Court of Beijing submitted a report earlier this month recommending changing the law for women who discover their husbands are gay so that they are not branded as ‘divorced’ which would make it even harder to find a new man in a society that insists on labelling any woman unmarried after 27 a ‘left over woman‘.
Reportedly, an estimated 70 percent of all gay men in China marry women, resulting in about 16 million women who are now labelled ‘tongqi‘, which would loosely translate to ‘homo-wife’. Homosexuality is still very controversial in China (it was listed as a mental illness until 2001) and many people enter into heterosexual marriages just to appease their families and to have children.
The new legislation would presumably apply to anyone but does not explicitly state what happens if the couple already have children, or if the man only realises his sexuality after the marriage, or if the woman is a lesbian and her straight husband finds out.
Ultimately this will only treat a symptom and not the cause. It may even push gay men even further into the un-filial corner. The long term answer is to legalise gay marriage so that these fake marriages don’t have to occur in the first instance, as Taiwan is currently considering.
Chinese society is getting more liberal (or rather, returning to the liberal attitudes prevalent in the country for hundreds of years before stuffy, sex hating Communist cadres took control), several big cities host Gay Pride marches, lesbians are now allowed to donate blood, and for those who do want to enter into a fake marriage for convenience, websites such as chinagayles.com can help people to find a partner.