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China parliament rules out allowing same-sex marriage

BEIJING (Reuters) – Limiting marriage to between a man and a woman will remain China’s legal position, a parliament spokesman said on Wednesday, ruling out following neighboring Taiwan in allowing same-sex marriage, despite pressure from activists.

FILE PHOTO: A participant takes part in a Pride Run, an event of the ShanghaiPRIDE LGBT celebration in Shanghai, China June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill in May that endorsed same-sex marriage, after years of heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled and democratic island.

China, which claims democratic and self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, has a thriving gay scene in major cities, but there has been little sign that the ruling Communist Party will legalize same sex marriage.

Asked at a news briefing whether China would legalize same-sex marriage, Zang Tiewei, spokesman for parliament’s legal affairs commission, said Chinese law only allowed for marriage between one man and one woman.

“This rule suits our country’s national condition and historical and cultural traditions,” he said. “As far as I know, the vast majority of countries in the world do not recognize the legalization of same-sex marriage.”

Individual Chinese legislators have occasionally in the past few years proposed legislation during China’s annual meeting of the largely rubber-stamp parliament held every March to legalize same-sex marriage, without success.

There are no laws against same-sex relations in China and despite growing awareness of LGBT issues, the community has been the target of Chinese censors in recent months, fuelling fears of a growing intolerance.

Activists have asked people in China to propose amendments to a draft civil code en masse, though have admitted they see little chance of success. The marriage parts of that code are expected to be passed into law next year,

The code makes changes on issues including sexual harassment, divorce and family planning, but does not further the rights of the LGBT community, according to drafts published by parliament.

Zang said that the marriage section of the draft civil code maintains the system of marriage being between a man and a woman.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Gao Liangping and Beijing newsroom

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