14 Apr 2016

Chinese couple lose fight for gay marriage

10:49 am on 14 April 2016

A judge in China has ruled a gay couple cannot register as married, in the country's first case of its kind.

Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang filed a lawsuit against Changsha city authorities after their application to register a union was rejected.

In January, a district court agreed to hear the case, a first in China.

Sue Wenlin, left, and Hu Mingliang were told they could not register as married.

Sue Wenlin, left, and Hu Mingliang were told they could not register as married. Photo: AFP

China does not legally recognise same-sex marriage but there is growing awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

On Wednesday, there were cheers for Mr Sun, 27, and Mr Hu, 37, when they entered the court, from hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside. Authorities allowed about 100 of them inside.

The court dismissed the case a few hours after the hearing started.

The couple's lawyer, Shi Funong, said he had expected the judgement to go against them but not so quickly.

"It goes against the spirit of the laws of the People's Republic of China," he said.

Mr Sun said he would appeal against Wednesday's court decision.

The two men had tried to register their union in June last year and filed the lawsuit in December.

Mr Sun said police had visited him after he filed the case to try to persuade him to drop it, but he refused.

"The original text of the Marriage Law does not say one man and one woman, but a husband and a wife," he said in an interview with state media in January. "I personally believe that this term refers not only to heterosexual couples but also to same-sex couples."

- BBC

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