The Many Routes to Marriage: In China, Unofficially.

In the West, when we speak of “marriage”, we are usually thinking of something sanctioned by either church or state – or both. In Asia, it’s more fluid. Last year I reported on the first gay marriage in Nepal, which was held without waiting for the new constitution to be completed and give legal sanction to the union. Similar unofficial weddings, unrecognized by legal provision, seem to be increasingly common in many Asian countries. What I like about this report from China is not the novelty value of the report (this not new. There was a very public “gay marriage” display in Beijing for Valentine’s Day, 2009), but the argument that public recognition of such marriages, even without religious blessing or legal registration, can contribute to stable and healthy relationships – and so contribute to HIV/AIDS prevention.

When Da Wen said “I do” to Xiao Qiang at their wedding in a Beijing restaurant on Saturday it was a union aimed not only at the joining of two people in love but also a bid to strengthen the fight against AIDS.

The two men, knowing that gay marriage is not recognized under Chinese law, still wanted to declare their union in public as an example to other gay couples in China.

Although their marriage cannot be officially registered, the couple received a certificate, complete with pictures of both men and the seal of “China’s Happy Marriage Committee,” an organization that doesn’t exist.

Xiao Dong, director of a Beijing AIDS prevention voluntary team, said such gay marriages would help people in the gay community prevent AIDS.

He said marriage could seal relationships and avoid rapid changes in sex partners.

Xiao said the lack of a law to regulate same-sex marriages in China made it difficult for gay couples to maintain their relationships.

People in gay communities would often have several sex partners due to the absence of law, thus dramatically increasing the risk of them getting AIDS, Xiao said.

Read more at China.org

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