During his holiday, US Consul General in Shanghai, Hanscom Smith, and his Taiwanese partner, Lü Yingzong (Eric Lu), got hitched in San Francisco.
Smith announced the marriage to the world via his US Consul General Weibo account, saying: “It is time to share some happy news with you all…” The announcement has been mostly greeted with well wishes for the newlyweds by Chinese netizens.
The American diplomat is following in the footsteps of former UK Consul General in Shanghai, Brian Davidson, who married his same-sex partner, Scott Chang, an American citizen, at the official residence of the UK ambassador to China in Beijing in 2014. While same-sex couples can’t be married in China, they can marry at a number of British consulates around the world, as long as the host country does not object.
However, Smith decided rather to travel to the Golden State to get married — just like the seven Chinese same-sex couples who won an online contest last year sponsored by Alibaba and Blued.
Born in Maine, Smith arrived in Shanghai in September, 2014. He is a veteran diplomat with experience all over the world, including Yaoundé, Copenhagen, Phnom Penh, Bangkok Kabul and Beijing. On the occasion of Brian Davidson’s wedding he told Beijing Today that he feels comfortable as a gay man in China.
“When people ask me if I’m married, I say no, I’m not, I have a partner,” he said. “Some older people go quiet, but younger ones are more open and accepting.”
Now he can feel even less awkward when answering that question.
Last month, a Chinese court in Changsha ruled on China’s first-ever court case regarding same-sex unions, quickly delivering a decision against a gay couple’s right to marry.
Listed as a mental illness until 2001, homosexuality is not illegal in China, though, as of yet, gay couples don’t have the legal rights or privileges afforded to heterosexual couples. Chinese labor law contains an anti-discrimination clause that covers ethnicity, religion and sex — but not gender or sexual identity. China’s new domestic violence does not apply to gay couples and recently Chinese censors have been cracking down on “immoral content,” including depictions of homosexuality in the media.