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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 04
Same-sex marriage in Beijing reported in official press
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Same-sex marriage in Beijing reported in official press

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Beijing's first same-sex marriage took place January 22.

Two men, identified by the pseudonyms Da Wen and Xiao Qiang, held what was described as a 'comparatively open' wedding ceremony with some 50 friends in China's capital city.

MC Xiao Dong presided. Xiao works as an HIV/AIDS prevention counselor at Beijing's Rainbow Volunteer Station.

The couple displayed marriage certificates similar to ones issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, but they are not believed to be authentic. Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in China.

This is reportedly Beijing's first same-sex marriage, and China's first marriage between Gay men. Two women previously wed in a ceremony in Guangdong province in southern China.

Remarkably, the January 22 ceremony was reported in the English language edition of China's official newspaper People's Daily on January 25

The newspaper is a publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and presents the views and policies of the Chinese leadership.

An article in even a foreign-language edition of People's Daily reflects a high degree of official approval.

While the Chinese leadership did not comment directly on the marriage, or give reasons for their decision to publicize it, it is known that they are concerned about the rate of China's HIV infections.

Statistics from a 2010 Health Report conducted by the Beijing Health Bureau show among the 1,233 new HIV/AIDS cases last year in Beijing, the ratio of male to female was 7.62: 1, with 60% of new infections contracted by men who have sex with men.

Xiao Dong, who emceed the Beijing wedding, said he hoped that marriage might help prevent new HIV infections.

'Their marriage is a remarkable move in the Gay community because a settled-down relationship helps reduce the chances of AIDS infection,' he said.

'They set a model among Gay couples, to encourage more Gays to have a stable relationship, which not only benefits themselves but also the whole society.' Xiao added.

The couple themselves just hoped to live as other married couples do.

'We just want to live a stable life as normal couples do, no matter if the wedding is held or not,' said Xiao Qiang.

'The society is more open than before, which makes us brave enough to show the public' Da Wen added.

The Chinese government has gone back and forth on LGBT rights in recent years.

China's first LGBT activity center opened in the southern city of Chongqing in December. The 'Chongqing Rainbow Floating Population Activity Center' will be officially dedicated at the 2011 Spring Festival, officials said.

Beijing also launched an official 'Smile at Gay People' campaign last year, co-sponsored by China's first PFLAG chapter.

In 2009, Beijing held its first LGBT film festival, and Shanghai hosted China's first pride Festival.

On the other hand, Beijing police broke up a Mr. Gay China pageant in January last year.

Same-sex relations have been legal in China since 1997, and discrimination against LGBT people or people with HIV/AIDS is illegal.

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