By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

Sun Wenlin and his fiance Hu Mingliang, were denied a marriage licence from the Civil Affairs Authority in Changsha, China. In what is being called a first such court case in the mainland over Gay marriage, Wenlin and Mingliang have captured worldwide press coverage over their lawsuit for marrige equality.

The couple spoke with “South China Morning Post” about their lawsuit:

SCMP: Why did you sue the civil affairs authority in Changsha?

Wenlin and Minglian: We think gay people should be entitled to the same rights as non-gay people. Discrimination brought by regulations that only a man and a woman can register their marriage while two men can’t should be eliminated. Although we don’t care whether other people recognise our relationship or marriage, a marriage certificate is, after all, a legal document, and it’s still important in many occasions. For example, if one of us gets ill and need emergency surgery, the other needs to sign documents, as his spouse, before surgery. Hospitals require a marriage certificate be presented. The certificate is also needed to decide wills. In June, 2015, Hu and I went to the Civil Affairs Bureau of Furong district in Changsha to register our marriage, but were turned down. Officials told me that if I had come with a woman, I would have been issued the certificate immediately.

We didn’t buy this and at the end of the year, we sued this bureau. We think that since China’s regulations don’t ban gay marriage, so it’s okay for us to marry. What’s more, we think the Marriage Law requires people to register themselves as “husband and wife”. We feel this stipulation is intended to prevent polygamy, rather than requiring a couple be a man and a woman. We lost the case. In April last year, we filed an appeal and lost again. Our lawsuit was handled by the district court and later by the Intermediate People’s Court of Changsha. In our opinion, the verdict should be decided by authorities at a higher level, given the importance of the issue.

SCMP: Have authorities pressured you over the law suit?

Wenlin and Minglian: At first, the district court refused to accept our case. Police officers visited my grandparents’ home and some grass-roots officials spoke with my father for 40 minutes. They wanted my relatives to persuade me to give up the lawsuit. Of course, I didn’t surrender to this pressure. Actually, I have extensive knowledge about how to deal with the government, as I am interested in civil rights and I have read many books and articles on the internet on the topic. I also like books about law, politics and philosophy. Another source of pressure cane from the public, some of whom left nasty comments on the internet. My case drew wide attention with many people saying vicious things about me. I hope the mainland public will become more tolerant of minorities.” [Read More]

This is a first for Mainland China to be forced to go to court and justify their ideological ban on same-sex marriage. We will continue to follow this story as new developments arise.

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