On Friday, the US Supreme Court released a widely anticipated ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, unleashing a deluge of triumph from marriage equality supporters and criticism from its detractors.
In China, where LGBT issues are increasingly prominent, media and social media soon lit up with news of the historic legal decision—even though it came out at 10 p.m. local time, said Tea Leaf Nation, a China-focused e-magazine owned by Foreign Policy.
Within 20 minutes, it headlined major Chinese news site NetEase, and within two hours, state media outlets Global Times and People’s Daily had posted the announcement and thousands of mostly celebratory comments poured in on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform, said TLN.
“The evolution will affect Asian countries, including China, but they won’t follow quickly and neither should we therefore blame ourselves,” wrote Global Times.
It followed with a trademark crazy zinger: “Society needs to show increasing tolerance for gay marriage, but it’s unnecessary to hype it up to induce potential homosexuals.”
In case that remark has you scratching your head, the implication is that too much press about gay marriage will turn heterosexuals into homosexuals.
That, of course, is as preposterous as saying the more you read about cleaning Beijing’s notorious air pollution, the bluer the sky will get.
Or, as ridiculous as banning the children’s classic Alice in Wonderland because the animals talk.
Or, as absurd as declaring an air defense identification zone over the man-made island you just built.
It’s also as ludicrous as China’s gay conversion therapy clinics—where patients are “cured” of same-sex romance with electroshock.
The Global Times, owned by Communist Party flagship People’s Daily, often echoes the official party line, but is also known for sensationalizing sundry issues to sell newspapers.
Regardless, same-sex marriage isn’t legal in China or in any other Asian country.
Gay sex, in fact, was a criminal offense until 1997, and homosexuality wasn’t declassified as a “mental illness” until 2001.
Today, it appears gay rights has many supporters.
As of Sunday, a post discussing the legalization of same-sex marriage on Weibo had attracted over 7 million page views with 64,000 online users participating in the discussion, said China News Service.
“Support and blessings!” one young man in the relatively gay-friendly provincial capital Nanjing wrote in a popular comment, said TLN.
“If you love someone, you love someone,” wrote another. “It has nothing to do with gender.”
A self-declared Katy Perry fan posted a string of rainbow emoticons with the comment, “Today is such a wonderful day” and the English hashtag “Love Wins”.
That said, as China increasingly aims to be a regional leader and more largely a global power, the country’s position on gay marriage sets the tone for any future potential for marriage equality, noted the International Business Times.
For now, the Chinese government has taken a somewhat agnostic approach toward homosexuality, neither banning nor endorsing it.
Last month seven Chinese gay couples were married in California—winners of a high-profile online contest offering an all-expenses-paid American dream wedding, said the Los Angeles Times.
The contest, which attracted hundreds of entries, was sponsored by e-commerce behemoth Alibaba and its shopping site Taobao, as well as China’s largest gay dating app, Blued.
Alibaba, while a public-traded company, has a significant number of shareholders with close ties to the Chinese government, namely, a bunch of sons or grandsons of the most powerful members of the ruling Communist Party, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
In Hong Kong, gay rights group Big Love Alliance (BLA) said it has no plans to raise the issue of same-sex marriage in the July 1 protest in the wake of the US Supreme Court ruling.
Same-sex marriage or civil unions are not currently recognized in Hong Kong.
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