A judge ruled on Wednesday against a gay couple who had sought the right to marry, in China’s first court case addressing the issue of same-sex unions.
The couple, Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang, filed a lawsuit against a civil affairs bureau in Changsha, Hunan Province, in southern China, after the office refused to grant them the right to marry when they tried to register in June 2015.
In a surprising move, a district court accepted the case early this year, the first time a Chinese court had agreed to hear such a lawsuit. An initial hearing scheduled for January was postponed. The court held a hearing on Wednesday morning, and the judge issued a ruling a few hours later. News of the ruling began circulating on social media shortly afterward.
Mr. Sun said in an interview that he and Mr. Hu planned to appeal. They will have to do so in the next 15 days, according to Chinese law.
Mr. Sun said that he had argued that he and Mr. Hu should be allowed to marry since the law did not explicitly ban same-sex marriage.
“We said this at the hearing, but they just kept repeating articles that mention ‘a man and a woman,’ ” he said, referring to the civil affairs bureau.
The bureau cited three articles from China’s marriage law and two from the official marriage registration regulation, he said, with four mentioning “a man and a woman” and one stating that a civil affairs bureau may refuse applications if it believes a couple is not qualified to marry.
“But the fact that marriage between a man and a woman is legal does not suggest that marriage between two men is illegal,” he said. “This is illogical. I asked them to name one article that explicitly bans marriage between two men, but they never answered my question directly.”