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China court blocks first same-sex marriage in landmark case

Joe Williams April 13, 2016

A judge has ruled against a Chinese couple’s right to marry in the country’s first same-sex marriage case.

Sun Wenlin sued the civil affairs bureau in the city of Changsha for the right to wed his partner Hu Mingliang.

He decided to take legal action after the couple’s request to have their relationship officially recognised as a marriage was rejected by authorities last June – on their first anniversary together.

In a surprising move, a district court accepted the case early this year.

However, on Wednesday morning a judge in Changsha dismissed the case – which activists said was the first of its kind in China – just hours after the hearing began.

Following the swift dismissal, Sun said he believed the court had not taken enough time to consider their case and been “too cautious”.

Despite the set, he vowed to carry on his fight for the right to marry.

“We will continue to appeal. I think it is worthwhile. It catches people’s attention and it will help our opinions spread,” Sun told The Guardian.

“All I need is freedom and equality,” he added.

“What we are trying to achieve is freedom and equality.”

Earlier hundreds of LGBT campaigners had gathered outside the court to show their support for the couple’s case.

Court officials allowed in about 100 spectators, but had to turn many others away.

Sun said that police had earlier visited him at the apartment he shares with Hu to try to talk him out of pursuing the lawsuit, but left after he reiterated his determination to press forward with the case.

“I hope I can pave the way as far and wide as possible so that people who want to do the same will see how much we have tried and what possibilities can there be,” he said interview the night before the hearing.

The case comes amid growing awareness of LGBT issues in China.

Earlier this year, a series of adverts urging people to be more accepting of gay people were launched across the country.

Homosexuality was removed from China’s official list of mental disorders in 2001 but remains a taboo subject.

More: Asia, China, China, hu mingliang, LGBT, same sex marriage, sun wenlin

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