A British diplomat and his partner have become the first same-sex couple to marry in China.
Brian Davidson married US citizen Scott Chang in the garden of the ambassador’s home in Beijing.
While gay marriage is not legal in China, the ambassador’s residence is regarded as a sovereign British territory.
The wedding caused a stir on social media after Davidson posted photos of the ceremony on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
On the social networking site, he wrote:
“I am very proud that the law in the United Kingdom today affords me the same rights as any other British national to be married to whomever I love”.
Chinese law operates a ‘three nos’ policy with regard to homosexuality: no approval, no disapproval, no promotion. Neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions are recognised by the government and homosexuality was only taken off the country’s official list of mental diseases in 2001.
The combination of the country’s refusal to recognise same-sex marriages and social pressure has led to many homosexual Chinese men marrying women in order to conform.
Attitudes appear to be changing, however. Last year, over 100 activists urged the Chinese government to implement gay marriage legislation.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 made same-sex marriage legal in the United Kingdom and all of its territories. This has led to difficulty for some Brits living abroad. A gay couple in Australia were told that their marriage in the British consulate would not be recognised.
Photo of Beijing, China by Sam Gao via Flickr