Gay marriage ruling marks progress in societal openness

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-15 0:18:02

After a Chinese court ruled Wednesday against a gay couple's suit that they should be allowed to marry, in what is the first case of its type in China, debate has once again been sparked both at home and abroad over whether Chinese society should promote the legislation of same-sex marriage.

Although rejected by the judge over their effort to secure the right to marry, the couple vowed to appeal.

However, unlike the focus of the Western media - that same-sex marriage is denied in China - the case has showed the development of openness and democracy in the country on the issue of gay marriage.

Although Chinese law has not given the green light to legal marriage for LGBT couples, the group is becoming increasingly tolerated and even supported in China. Instead of hiding in the closet, they are now influenced by the outside world, and start to come out of the darkness into the sunlight. They are making great efforts to let their voices be heard as they struggle for their rights.

This is obviously not easy in a traditional society which attaches great importance to Confucian values. Over the past thousands of years, Chinese society has put great emphasis on traditional family structures based on heterosexual marriage. People consider their family bonds, and the continuation of their family bloodlines as sacred and one of the most significant parts of their lives, while homosexual marriage is believed to be against nature and ethics.

As China opens up and is exposed to globalization, it is now witnessing a historic debate over tradition versus modernization. The couple standing up and fighting for legal same-sex marriage is by all means progress. But they still face a number of challenges ahead. The majority of the Chinese population is still conservative on this issue, with some viewing homosexuality as a psychological disorder, which can be cured.

That said, the biggest stumbling block in front of them is not rules or laws, but more popularization and understanding from the public. Otherwise, an abrupt change may pose a strong impact on social harmony and stability. Even in countries where same-sex marriage is a legal right, people's opinions differ. When the US allowed same-sex marriage last year, the narrow 5-4 ruling by the country's Supreme Court mirrored the complexity. And even after the landmark bill was approved, a staunchly conservative county clerk in Kentucky refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples until she was jailed and then ordered to do so.

In a country that is more conservatively traditional than the US, how to gradually adjust and guide public opinion over controversies like same-sex marriage, and how to make our social management, including the rule of law, follow the pace of social development have become a major challenge in China. More time and wisdom is needed.

Posted in: Observer

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