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Gay people in China need to come out

Talking about talking about legalizing same-sex marriage is a good first step, says Xing Zhao a member of Shanghai’s LGBT community and CNN GO's Shanghai LGBT Insider.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

28th March 2011 20:53

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

For the past 10 years, China’s most well-known and outspoken sexologist Dr. Li Yinhe has persistently submitted a proposal to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to legalize same-sex marriage.

Every year a proposal, and every year it gets nowhere. That is, until this year.

At the CPPCC in March, Li struck political gold: her five reasons why China should legalize same-sex marriage were officially recognized. She argued that:

1. Gay people should have the same rights as straight people, including the right to get married (with someone of the same sex).
2. Recognizing same-sex marriage would take China’s human rights record a huge step ahead of the United States.
3. Letting gay and lesbian people marry would reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
4. With fewer breeders, China could better control its population problem.
5. Same-sex marriage symbolizes social tolerance, diversity and harmony.

Acknowledging Li’s submission marked a major step forward for the CPPCC — although we’re still a long way from a vote on legalizing same sex marriage,

The importance of same-sex marriage

I believe it’s important for China to legalize same-sex marriage, but not for the reasons given by Dr. Li.

Many gay people in China have low self-acceptance of their sexual orientation due to the negative views of homosexuality in media and education. For years, homosexuality has been dubbed as “perversity,” so many gay boys and girls grow up with self-loathing.

Legalizing same-sex marriage will allow gay kids to have role models and help them understand that it’s OK to be attracted to and to love someone of the same sex. It will tell them: you can be gay and be happy.

For many Chinese families today, having a gay son or daughter means unspeakable shame.

Even though my mother accepts the fact that I’m gay and is able to joke about it, she still never speaks with anyone about what "puts her in shame."

She also still holds out hopes that one day I will marry a woman.

“What about marriage?” she often asks. “It is just not right to end up with a man.”

If marrying people of the same sex was an option, stubborn parents might still shake their heads and say “I just don’t understand the gay thing,” but at least it would no longer be some kind of shameful secret.