Gay Marriage Tourism: China’s LGBT Population Exchanges Vows in California

Chinese lesbians (Ed Jones / AFP / Getty)
Ed Jones / AFP / Getty

Gay marriage is illegal in China, but this past Tuesday in West Hollywood, seven gay and lesbian Chinese couples–winners of an all-expenses-paid trip to the United States and an American dream wedding–were able to exchange vows. Although their marriages are legal in the United States, they won’t be recognized in their home country.

Gay marriage tourism could be the latest fad for a rising Chinese demographic that has increasingly been leaving its stamp on the Golden State.

The couples reportedly obtained their marriage licenses at the Beverly Hills Courthouse and wed at the West Hollywood Library, according to the Los Angeles Times. The library is the same historic site where two short summers ago hordes of gay couples married after it became legal in the Golden State. Hundreds of Chinese had applied for the contest, and West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath reportedly officiated the ceremony.

Chinese e-commerce king Alibaba and its sister shopping site Taobao sponsored the “We Do” contest in conjunction with China’s largest gay dating app, Blued, notes the TimesGay dating apps are increasingly popular in China.

China considered gay sex a criminal offense until 1997. It was during China’s Cultural Revolution, spanning from 1966-1976 that homosexuality was severely punished as a result of Mao Zedong’s social and cultural revisionist mentality which placed a great emphasis on ideological purity, stemming from communism and purging society of capitalism and traditional Chinese elements.

Historical traces of homosexuality existed throughout Chinese history and particularly in the Shang Dynasty, where it was described by the term “Luan Feng.”

China’s population is overwhelmingly male-dominated, a result of the one-child policy from the past as a tool for population control, combined with the culture’s general preference of males to females.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.