LGBTQ activists in China are encouraged by their government’s acknowledgment of petitions for equal marriage rights.
More than 230,000 people had petitioned the government for same-sex marriage as of early December. By December 20, the legislative commission of the National People’s Congress acknowledged the petitions, an unusual move that led to a wave of optimism among equality activists in the nation.
“We were very happy, pleasantly surprised by the news!” Peng Yanzi, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, told NBC News in a story published Tuesday.
“As recently as August, a representative of the same body had dismissed same-sex marriage as contrary to Chinese culture and stressed that China’s marriage system was based on the union of ‘man and woman,’” NBC reports.
The legalization of same-sex marriage is probably still far off. “In China, after collecting public opinion, a bill can be drafted and deliberated several times before it is finalized, published again for public comment and submitted to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for enactment,” NBC explains.
“I know it’s just a proposal and it’s most likely not going to be realized in the near future, but the fact this topic is now publicly and officially on the table gives the LGBT community hope for the first time after years of hiding and struggling,” 21-year-old Gao Qianhui, a lesbian in the city of Shenzhen, told the network.
“The important thing is that it’s no longer possible for society to stay where it was 10 years ago,” Peng added.
Taiwan, which was once part of China but has had its own government since 1949, when the Communist Party took over China, last year became the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.