Registration system for gay couples proposed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 January, 2010, 12:00am

In the mainland's first official look at whether same-sex couples could formalise their relationships, a lawmaker has proposed that Guangdong adopt a registration system. He says it would help the government handle gay issues better.

Zhu Lieyu, a director and partner of Guangdong law firm Guoding, is a delegate of the provincial People's Congress, whose five-day annual meeting opens today. He said he would submit the proposal while the congress was in session.

He said there was a void in government management for homosexuals, and a registration system for couples who wanted to live together could help solve social problems connected with same-sex relationships. 'For example, how should we deal with those same-sex couples who have property disputes?' Zhu asked. 'Can one of the couple inherit the partner's property after he or she passes away?'

Authorities should also consider gay couples' rights and obligations to support the elderly and adopt children. 'Once we have a registration system, we can tell the couples what they may do and what they may not,' he said.

He denied his purpose was to legalise same-sex marriage, and uses the phrase 'same-sex couple relationships', since 'marriage refers only to the relationship between a man and a woman on the mainland'.

Zhu said the idea came to him following a recent news article about two gay men who celebrated their illegal 'wedding' in a bar in Chengdu, Sichuan , early this month.

In his research on the issue, he learned that at least 2 to 3 per cent of people on the mainland are gay - the government figure - and some of his university-teacher friends told him that more and more young people were in same-sex relationships. 'The gay community is there, and we cannot ignore its existence,' Zhu said. 'I also want to make an appeal that society should not discriminate against them.'

Members of the gay community generally welcomed Zhu's proposal, which they said would draw public attention to the issues they face. But they suggested authorities should first serve the community rather than 'manage' or even monitor it.

A gay man from Guangzhou, who identified himself as 'A Qiang', said Zhu's proposal was constructive, but he hoped the delegates could talk and consult with the gay community to find out what they needed most.

Wan Yanhai, a Beijing-based activist who has followed gay issues for a long time, agreed. He said if the registration system was a matter of public security, as Zhu stated in another interview, few same-sex couples would use it, since they regard their right to privacy as more important.