A debate between one of China’s leading pro-gay advocates and the editor of an influential national newspaper has erupted on the one of the country’s most popular and comprehensive news websites.

As reported by SameSame, a popular Australian LGBT website, Professor Li Yinhe, a long-standing advocate of same-sex marriage, was asked to discuss the issue on the website NetEase.

One outcome of the discussion was an opinion piece by Li Tie, editor of southern China’s influential The Times Weekly. While the article reportedly acknowledges the right of gay men and lesbians to love and live together, Li Tie’s statements soon veered off in an entirely different direction, saying that treading carefully on the issue was “not an act of discrimination” because “conditions usually apply when protecting minorities’ rights.”

He continued: “The impacts of same-sex marriage include the ‘domino effect’ that it may bring upon the marriage system.

“Once same-sex marriage is legalised, it may lead to the debates on legalising ‘multi-partner marriage’ and ‘human-animal marriage’.

“If the law recognizes same-sex marriage, what about the ‘rights’ to adultery, incest or pedophilia? Does this bring a challenge to the bottom line of civilization?”

The article brought forth comments from both pro- and anti-gay readers. Some were downright hostile, including one which stated: “Gays should be buried alive so that their gay disease won’t infect more people.”

Another reader took the author to task, saying: “Do your homework well before you start to write an article like this as people will see how ignorant you are. And don’t bring up those ‘human-animal’, ‘three-people marriage’ or stories of incest again, as the attempt to represent a far vaster group with some extreme cases is clearly an act of discrimination.”

China only decriminalised homosexuality in 1997 and it remained classified as a mental illness until 2001.