Chinese Lesbian Marks Mothers' Day With Call For Reproductive Rights

china-lesbians-july-2015.jpg A lesbian couple celebrates outside of a beauty salon as they prepare for their unofficial wedding in Beijing, July 2, 2015.
AP Photo

A lesbian activist has called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to allow full reproductive rights for unmarried women, who aren't currently allowed to give birth under existing family planning rules.

Zhan Yingying, a pseudonym, wrote to health and family planning authorities at the city and regional level across China to mark Mother's Day in the United States, calling for women to be allowed to give birth outside of heterosexual marriages. Gay marriages are currently not recognized in China.

Zhan, 29, said she has already contributed to in-depth research into the subject.

"I am a single woman myself, as well as a lesbian, and I would like this to happen," Zhan told RFA on Monday. "I have been involved in researching this since 2015, and I have come across a lot of people, both single women and gay women, who have had ... to leave China in order to have a child."

"They have run into a lot of difficulties, such as finding it hard to get a household registration for their child," she said. "All of these issues need to be resolved."

"It's unreasonable for reproductive rights to be so closely bound up with [heterosexual] marriage," she said.

Zhan said she has previously written to China's parliament, the National People's Congress, calling for in-depth research into the matter.

So far, only the northeastern province of Jilin has taken the lead in allowing unmarried women to give birth.

But they are afraid to publicize the rule change, for fear that it will be seen as a challenge to nationwide rules.

Hong Kong-based lawyer Ding Yaqing, who works for an LGBT-friendly law firm, said Chinese family planning policy currently further discriminates against women, by allowing single men to freeze their sperm, but not single women to freeze their eggs.

"If a woman wants to freeze her eggs [in mainland China], she has to have three different documents: a marriage certificate, a certificate of authorization to give birth and her personal ID card," Ding told RFA. "This is discrimination."

"There is nothing to date in the law of the People's Republic of China forbidding single women to give birth, but local policies have made it so that only heterosexual married couples may have up to two children," she said. "This is an overuse of official power and it infringes on the rights of citizens."

Ding said regulations in force since 2003 have also excluded single woman and certain married couples from using human reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), and that only Jilin province had implemented different regulations.

Gay harassment

Homosexuality was officially regarded as a mental illness in China until 2011, and LGBT people still face huge social pressure to marry and have children.

Video footage circulating on the Sina Weibo social media platform at the weekend showed police apparently beating up and shoving two women wearing free rainbow badges at an event at the 798 Art District in Beijing.

Security staff at Beijing's 798 Art Zone "roughed up" two women for wearing the badges on their clothing, prompting a social media outcry from LGBT groups, official media reported.

Security staff had refused to let the two women enter because they were wearing badges given to them by a man outside the north gate to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which falls on May 17.

"I planned to give out 5,000 rainbow badges in 798 but was stopped by the security staff," the paper quoted the man as saying. "Trying to stop me from handing out badges and stopping others who wore them from entering the zone is absurd."

Both women were hospitalized in the attack, and one had stitches, the report said.

A 798 Art Zone official told the Global Times on Sunday that staff "have a right to stop illegal activity," and blamed one of the women for "starting the incident" by giving staff the finger.

"Wearing a rainbow badge is illegal to me," the paper quoted him as saying.

China's state propaganda machine last year warned the country's tightly controlled media not to "make a big deal" of a May 26, 2017 ruling by Taiwan's constitutional court that effectively legalized same-sex marriages in two years' time, although rights campaigners welcomed the landmark ruling, and called on other governments in the region to follow suit.

In April 2016, a court in the central Chinese province of Hunan rejected a complaint filed by a gay man against the government for refusing his application to marry his male partner.

Sun Wenlin, 26, had filed the historic complaint against the Furong district civil affairs bureau in Hunan's provincial capital Changsha, after officials from the bureau refused to allow him and his partner Hu Mingliang to register their marriage there.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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