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David Wertime

In Online Poll, a Majority Support Gay Marriage in China

Participants cheer at Shanghai’s gay pride week in 2009. It was the first LGBTQ pride event in China’s history. (kk+/Flickr)

A poll currently live on Chinese Internet portal Sina.com shows that a majority of over 62,000 respondents favor amending China’s Marriage Law to allow for same sex marriage.

The poll allows respondents four choices: “I support it, love does not require a gender difference” has received 50.1% of the vote thus far. “I oppose it, gay marriage violates social mores” has received 25.9%, with the rest saying they have no preference or cannot decide.

Although Sina can be fairly described as an ideologically neutral platform, Chinese Internet users as a whole tend to be younger, more educated, and thus likely more liberal than the population at large. But their opinions are likely predictive of social trends within China.

A screenshot from the ongoing Sina poll.

The impetus for the poll lies in yet another open letter written to China’s congress. On February 25, a group calling itself Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of China posted an unsigned blog entry addressed to the National People’s Congress, which is scheduled to convene in Beijing in early March.

Written in informal, even chatty language, the letter is nonetheless a heartfelt and forceful plea for authorities to change China’s marriage law. The parents explain they are called “comrade parents”–the old Maoist greeting of “comrade” in China now used mostly as code for “gay.” The letter continues,

According to sociologists, homosexuals comprise between 3% and 5% of the total population. By this reckoning, China has approximately 60 million homosexuals who are excluded from the marriage halls because the Marriage Law currently in effect only allows for union between one man and one woman.

The letter also evinces a growing rights consciousness in China, stating:

What’s more, homosexuals are not violating any law currently in effect. They possess all of the rights of citizens of the People’s Republic of China, and they cannot be deprived of their right to marry for long.

Much like Chinese civil society writ large, gay rights in China has made tremendous strides over the past few decades, even if much terrain remains to be traveled. An article by state-run Xinhua news service in early February recaps some major milestones, including the de-criminalization of homosexual sex in 1997 and a de-classification of homosexuality as a “pathology” in 2000. Nevertheless, the article states, the legalization of gay marriage is “rather far off.” It quotes Beijing University law school professor Ma Yinan, who studies marriage law, as saying that the legislature is unlikely to consider changing the law until there has been further social change.

The letter is available in Chinese here, and a full Tea Leaf Nation translation follows below.

Hello, National People’s Congress!

We come from all over, our children are homosexual, and we are called “comrade parents.” Because of our children’s sexual orientation, they have been unable to legally start a family with the people they love…leading to hassle in seeing a doctor and many other areas of life.

According to sociologists, homosexuals comprise between 3% and 5% of the total population. By this reckoning, China has approximately 60 million homosexuals who are excluded from the marriage halls because the Marriage Law currently in effect only allows for union between one man and one woman. Some of our children have lived with their same-sex partners for almost 10 years. They take care of each other and love each other, but if one get sick and needs surgery, the other cannot sign for them. As parents of homosexuals, we often feel anxious, as the inability to legally marry will affect to some degree our children’s ability to raise the next generation, sign for surgery, inherit their partner’s property, and even buy a home.

It’s incredible that, although our gay children do not love members of the opposite sex, they still have the legal right to marry them. Everyone knows that when a homosexual and a heterosexual get married, it can lead to…serious social problems, and even more people living unhappily. Is our law trying to encourage [this]?

What’s more, homosexuals are not violating any law currently in effect. They possess all of the rights of citizens of the People’s Republic of China, and they cannot be deprived of their right to marry for long.

We earnestly request that the National People’s Congress and members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress pay attention, listening closely to the heartfelt voices of 120 million “comrade parents,” [and] show sympathy for the eagerness that 60 million homosexuals have for equality and respect. [We] call on [our representatives] to amend the Marriage Law as soon as possible, giving the equal right to marriage to China’s 60 million gay citizens.

Thank you for your attention to this matter amidst your busy schedule, and wish you happy work and good health!

Salutations!

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.
  • http://www.wageindicator.org fonstuinstra

    Yeah, but what is the value of such a poll if the suggestion by ‘Tech in Asia’ is correct and 90% of its accounts are zombies? Would be rather tough to take such a poll serious.

    • tealeafnation

      Hi Fons, thanks for reading! Your comment is timely: the issue of the true “population count” on Weibo (which we also wrote about here: bit.ly/15iSz8R) is a real one. That said, we still view it as a powerful tool to gauge sentiment in China. As to this specific article, the poll was in fact not powered by Weibo, but was attached to an article on the Sina platform. As we wrote, it had 62,000 responses (65,000 now), which is certainly a small slice of China. The article notes this, but also argues opinions on China’s Web are “likely predictive of social trends” in the future. Hope this clears things up a bit, and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Charles Liu

    China had a gay emperor, after all. That’s where the term “cut sleeve” came from; the emperor cuts his sleeve so not to disturb his male concubine who had fallen asleep on it.

  • Jim

    Looks like Capoeira to me.

  • Lawrence Newman

    This is ridiculous. Acknowledges respondents were likely a very specific demographic, then goes on to say result is reflective of all demographics. Logic found wanting and rejected.

    Also, sociologists say between 3 and 5% are gay? Where is the proof of this? A recent poll in the UK revealed only 1% of respondents identified as gay. These lefties are always trying to exaggerate the existence of this sexual disorder.