China has passed the country’s first law against domestic violence which prohibits all forms of abuse in both married and cohabiting couples, but gay couples will not be afforded the same protection.
According to Xinhua, China did not have a specialized law on family abuse prior to this week. References to the matter were only made in other laws and regulations such as the Marriage Law, the Law on the Protection of Minors and the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women.
Domestic violence is rampant in China, though it is typically unspoken of in fear of shaming the family. A study in 2013 found that 50 percent of men have admitted to physically and sexually abusing their partners.
According to the Communist party-run All-China Women’s Federation, about a quarter of all women have suffered violence in their marriage, though only 40,000 to 50,000 complaints are registered each year. Of the cases reported last year, almost 90% involved abuse of wives by their husbands.
Though this is a major breakthrough for victims of domestic violence in China, the law fell short for the gay community as it does not extend to same-sex couples. Guo Linmao, a member of the legislative affairs commission, said in response to a reporter’s question that this type of violence had not yet been discovered.
“There are a lot of examples of domestic violence between family members, and also between people who cohabit,” Guo said. “As for homosexuals in our country, we have not yet discovered this form of violence, so to give you a certain answer, it can be said that people who cohabit does not include homosexuals.”
While not illegal, homosexuality is certainly a taboo topic in China. Despite being removed from the country’s official list of psychiatric disorders back in 2001, a large number of textbooks still refer to homosexuality as a condition which can be treated with “gay conversion therapy.”
[Images via China Daily]