On the eve of this year’s Valentine’s Day, LGBTIQ couples went to Beijing’s most iconic landmarks and posed for the camera with cartoon cut-out banners promoting marriage equality. The iconic landmarks included the Bird Nest Stadium, Beijing University, the Summer Palace, Dashilar Street and the CCTV headquarters building.
Among the participants were gay couples, lesbian couples, transgender couples, and straight couples who supported their cause. Some couples held up colorful banners that read: “the freedom to love does not distinguish gender” and “allow us to experience the woes of marriage too.” Of course there were those at the scene who did not support the idea. When passersby were interviewed, there were occasionally people who claimed not to support same-sex marriage. However, when one of the participants yelled out “support LGBTIQ equal marriage rights,” a nearby lady called back, “I support it!”
Around the world, there is a growing trend towards legalizing same-sex marriages, with twenty nations having already done so. Within East Asia, Taiwan has made great strides towards same-sex marriage with the introduction of two new bills in the legislature, while Mainland China has experienced its first ever case of same-sex marriage registration. In addition to this, there is a mounting climate of tolerance towards same-sex marriage, especially among young people. Nevertheless, the LGBTIQ community still faces many challenges.
Ka Ka, who identifies as transgender, told reporters that “in China, if you don’t receive full sex reassignment surgery, it is extremely difficult to change your identity and even impossible to marry. What’s more many transgender people in China cannot afford sex reassignment surgery, which negatively affects our lives.” In another example, a lesbian couple who had lived together for over twelve years faced legal issues when one of the two passed away. Even though she had expressed a wish to pass her assets on to her partner, her partner was legally viewed as a stranger with no right to her assets.
While the LGBTIQ community still faces many obstacles in China, there have been leaps and strides towards marriage equality in recent years. With the continued tolerance of young people across China, the terms “marriage” and “household” may well take on a new meaning someday soon.