China’s biggest online shopping website, Taobao, is sending ten LGBT couples to Los Angeles for six days as part of a contest aptly titled “We Do,” which allows the winners to not only tie the knot, but to be a part of in legally recognized marriages (at least in California).
The Chinese couples will get married during a group wedding ceremony on Tuesday at the West Hollywood Library, officiated by the West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath.
Liu Xin and Hu Zhidong, one of the winning couples, compared the upcoming experience to “the same way a girl is always looking forward to the feeling she’ll have the moment when she puts on a wedding dress,” in an interview with The World Post. That article notes that the couple has been together for eight years.
Liu, however, is less hopeful about establishing the freedom to marry in his homeland. “There’s not much I can do on my own to push forward legalizing gay marriage in all of China,” he told the World Post. ”But when I attend this kind of ceremony, at the very least it’s going to be something that I really want for myself, something that will be worth remembering.”
Taobao’s “We Do” campaign was created in collaboration with four Chinese LGBT rights groups, along with dating app Blued, the Chinese equivalent of Grindr. Taobao is owned by Alibaba, which is China’s biggest online commerce company, according to Wall Street Journal.
With this contest, Alibaba and Taobao are looking to set themselves apart from China’s traditionalist culture by presenting the tech giants as proud LGBT supporters, despite the government’s rejection of marriage equality. Although activists have suggested legal reforms to support the country’s LGBT population, the Chinese government has failed to advance any such measures.
"By holding this campaign, we want to demonstrate our respect toward the aspirations and dreams of same-sex couples,” a spokeswoman for Taobao told the World Post. She also said that the website’s advocacy of LGBT rights through “We Do” contest should highlight “the uniqueness and individuality of the Taobao platform."