A Chinese court issued a verdict on Wednesday in the case of a gay couple seeking the right to marry, ultimately defining marriage as between a man and a woman, only. Sun Wenlin, 27, and his partner Hi Mingliang, 37, first tried to register for a marriage license in June, only to be told by an employee at a local civil affairs bureau that same-sex marriage was forbidden by law. In January, a Hunan court agreed to give the case a hearing , making it the first same-sex marriage hearing in China’s history.
“The relevant regulations and law clearly stated the subject of marriage refers to a man and a woman who meet the legal conditions of marriage,” the court wrote in an online statement made after the case, translated to English by the Los Angeles Times. “Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang are both men, therefore their application doesn’t comply with the marriage regulations and law. The grounds of Sun Wenlin’s and Hu Mingliang’s appeal cannot be established. In summary, the court dismissed their litigation requests according to the law.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Sun says that he and his partner argued that Chinese marriage law does not explicitly refer to a man and a woman, but instead, a husband and wife. The bureau retorted with the fact that they are not required by law to accept the marriage applications of unqualified couples, as judged by the bureau.
“But the fact that marriage between a man and a woman is legal does not suggest that marriage between two men is illegal,” Sun said in court. “This is illogical. I asked them to name one article that explicitly bans marriage between two men, but they never answered my question directly.” Before the ruling went public, Sun told the Los Angeles Times, “If we lose the case, it’s still better than if we did nothing. If you don’t knock on the door, the door will be closed to you forever. But once you knock on the door, you can knock on it for a second and third time, and there’s a chance the door will finally open someday.”