China’s position limiting marriage to between a man and a woman will remain unchanged, a parliamentary spokesperson said on Wednesday, despite pressure from activists following neighbouring Taiwan’s landmark decision to allow same-sex marriage earlier this year.
The statement comes after the Taiwanese Parliament passed a bill in May legalising same-sex marriage, following years of debate that divided the democratic and self-ruled island, claimed by mainland China as its territory.
The spokesman for the Chinese parliament’s legal affairs commission, Zang Tiewei, affirmed that Chinese law only allows for marriage between a man and a woman when asked at a news briefing about China’s stance on legalising same-sex marriage.
“This rule suits our country’s national condition and historical and cultural traditions,” he said.
“As far as I know, the vast majority of countries in the world do not recognise the legalisation of same-sex marriage.”
Individual Chinese legislators in the past few years have occasionally proposed legislation to legalise same-sex marriage during China’s annual March meeting of the parliament, but to no success.
While there are no laws against same-sex relations in China, and despite growing awareness of LGBTQI issues, the community has been the target of censorship in recent months, fuelling fears of growing discrimination.
Activists in China have asked people to propose pro-LGBTQI amendments to a new draft civil code. The parts of the code relating to marriage are due to pass into law next year.
The code makes changes around issues such as divorce and sexual harassment, but drafts published by parliament show no advancements for the rights of the LGBTQI community in China so far this time around.
Prominent gay rights activist Sun Wenlin told Reuters this week that he was not surprised, but was disappointed by the lack of progress.
Wenlin had his application to legally marry his partner rejected by a Chinese court three years ago.
“I feel that my partner and I are sacrificing our happiness for the country’s legal system,” he said.
“They are undermining our life plan of choosing to marry the person we love … I feel I am being excluded, and am absolutely not a consideration for policymakers.”