Chinese Court Rejects Same-Sex Marriage in Country’s First Big Test

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In this photo taken Tuesday, April 12, 2016,  Sun Wenlin, right,  sits with his partner Hu Mingliang at home a day before going to court to argue in China's first gay marriage case in Changsha in central China's Hunan province.  A judge on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 ruled against the gay couple in China's first same-sex marriage case that attracted several hundred cheering supporters to the courthouse and was seen as a landmark moment for the country's emerging LGBT rights movement. (AP Photo/Gerry Shih)
Sun Wenlin, right, sits with his partner, Hu Mingliang, at home a day before going to court to argue in China's first same-sex marriage case.Photo: Gerry Shih

A Chinese judge took just a few hours to dismiss the country’s first same-sex marriage case Wednesday, rejecting a gay couple’s petition. The court’s decision wasn’t that unexpected, though the speed with which it was handed down — right after a three-hour hearing — did take some by surprise. The plaintiffs who filed the suit — Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang — are expected to appeal the decision.

The case began in June 2015, when partners Sun, 27, and Hu, 37, tried to officially register their relationship in Changsha, a city in Hunan Province. Officials in the civil-affairs bureau denied the couple’s request, and the couple sued in December for the right to marry. A court agreed to take the case in January, though proceedings were postponed until this week. “We will continue to appeal. I think it is worthwhile,” Sun, one of the men in the suit, told reporters. “It catches people’s attention and it will help our opinions spread.” 

Hundreds came out to support the couple in their case, which is the second of two big LGBT cases in China this week. The Guardian reports that on Monday a court heard the discrimination case of a 28-year-old transgender man who said he was fired from his managerial job at a health center because he “wore the wrong clothes.” This is apparently the first case concerning transgender rights taken up by a Chinese court, and a decision is expected later this month.