On Wednesday, hundreds of people watched as nine Chinese gay and transgender couples finally got the chance to tie the knot aboard a cruise ship headed for Japan in waters near Shanghai.
The marriages were part of a week-long series of events in China held to celebrate gay pride month. While Taiwan is on the road to marriage equality following a historic court ruling last month, China still has a long way to go.
For 32-year-old Aries Liu, this day was a long time coming. While Liu has been out of the closet as a transgender man for almost two decades, his parents only began to accept his sexuality last year. Liu was overjoyed that his parents had made the decision to take the cruise to watch as he wed his partner
“It’s amazing to have my parents there as witnesses,” Liu told Reuters. “Over all these years, I have been paving the way to acceptance bit by bit.”
“Due to our courage to take a stand and progress now, I think gay marriage will be legal in 10 years,” he added.
For many gay rights activists in China, this estimate would appear ambitious. While homosexuality was taken off China’s official list of psychiatric disorders in 2001 and attitudes have improved in recent years, it is still far from easy to be gay in the PRC.
Last month, police in Shanghai kicked a group of mothers of gay children out of People’s Park after they gatecrashed the city’s popular “marriage market” to raise awareness. Meanwhile, police in Xi’an detained nine LGBT activists to prevent them from holding a conference in the city, reportedly telling the activists that “Xi’an does not welcome LGBT events.”
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