Same Sex Marriage in China and Australia by Jian Yuan Guo
Same Sex Marriage or No Same Sex Marriage? Who is to determine what is right for society or not right for society? The acceptance of Same Sex Marriage within Australia has under gone significant speculation? What about the Chinese population? From a recent survey conducted by the Chinese Government, Chinese homosexuals are numbered to be 30 million. Whilst in Australia, homosexuals are accounted for approximately 23,000. JianYuan Guo investigates the differences of Chinese and Australian homosexuals living under different circumstances and pressures of society.
Homosexuality, in fact is a social phenomenon, that has existed for thousands of year. Historically, many talented artists, philosophers have been regarded as being gay, such as Socrates, Plato, Michelangelo, Whitman, and many other excellent gay celebrities. However, the notion of homosexuality has been noted as being against the traditional society and moral standards. Up until today, the homosexual community is still an extremely marginalized sub-group, and often regarded as alien, which is not accepted by mainstream society.
Due to the differences in of the Chinese population the perception of values, communication and information channels are substantially different to the modern day Australian population. In China, it has been reported by homosexuals that, significant amounts of speculation, jealousy and social pressure arises. Due to the lack of respect and acceptance from the general Chinese Community, seriously affecting the livelihood and mental health on the individual. Many same sex partners believe, if same sex marriage is approved, it will be the best way to be respected from the heterosexual community, whilst also eliminating discrimination and injustice.
In 1997, the Chinese Government abolished the Hooligan law, an act considered by most to decriminalize homosexuality and in 2001, the Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders. From such changes, the social status of homosexuals has changed, however, this special group in China is still discriminated and living under large social pressures. Most homosexuals in China are forced to marry heterosexuals by their family. From ancient traditions, a Chinese saying that ‘those who lack filial piety, are the worst especially those who have no children’. From such traditions, young women as young as 25 are forced to marry and bear children from a young age to fulfill their responsibility and carry no shame to their family name.
In China, at least 80% of the 30 million homosexuals have been or about to enter into marriage with heterosexuals by covering their homosexual identity, where they face pressure from society and tradition. In other words, at least 24 million homosexuals will build a family with heterosexuals. Undoubtedly, the specially arranged marriage makes it difficult to achieve a couple’s obligations such as sex, which will cause detrimental psychological pain, even tragedy in these marriages.
Jie Tan (alias) is a 26 year old Chinese lesbian whose girlfriend has been forced to marry to a man by her parents. “She did not want to break her parents’ heart, so she chose to marry a man, which she had only met for 2 months. She called me before her wedding and asked me whether or not I would hate her because she chose to follow her parents’ wishes. I was heart broken, but realized that I cannot do anything to change this situation,” says Jie
Jie says her girlfriends marriage is going badly. “She always feels that she must fulfill an obligation when her husband asked for sex, but she instinctively curls her body up, and feels very frightened and scared. She also told me that she is very obnoxious when her husband tries to have sex with her. She assumes that her husband also feels disappointed and suspicions,” says Jie.
In China, few homosexuals would be brave enough to admit their sexual orientation. Many of them have heterosexual spouses. Occasionally some homosexuals have a marriage where they are able to reach an “agreement” with their spouses in order to reduce social pressures on themselves and camouflage a homosexual orientation.
According to Jie, “Some Chinese lesbians would have a ‘boyfriend’ to cover their sexual orientation. They would make an agreement after marriage to not interfere with each other’s personal life. In order to get along in the future. In fact, this is a last resort option, but compared with the marriage with heterosexual, at least they did not cheat on each other and will not be condemned by themselves and have a little bit of comfort.”
Many homosexuals in China believe the fundamental way to solve this problem is for the Government to approve to same sex marriage. They believe that legal marriage would objectively correct the understanding of homosexuality, eliminate prejudice, and build social respect. These homosexuals believed that the family recognition is one of the important ways to change the plight of 30 million homosexuals in order solve these special issues.
Interview with Lidia Chan
Lidia Chan (alias) is an Australian lesbian. She said “ most of my family members have not disagreed with my relationship with a girl. However, they would prefer if I choose a boy, but if I insist on choosing a girl, they would accept that. However, I have been discriminated by several family members. They believe that a homosexual relationship will not have a happy ending.”
In Australia, society and media have given homosexuals more attention than China. In Sydney, there is an annual gay and lesbian Mardi Gras Parade which is held in Sydney CBD, and Australia also has a lot of non-profit organizations and communities which support homosexuals to get their rights.
However, although Australia seems to be an open country, Same Sex Marriage has not yet been approved. On October 22, 2013, Australian Capital has approved Marriage Equality Act, however, on December 12, 2013, the High Court of Australia ruled that same-sex marriage is invalid.
“We would not expect and influence people to become homosexuals. We just only want equal opportunity and support. We believe marriage is only way to achieve it. Most homosexuals have found out that they are homosexuals from a young age, and we have never be in love with the opposite sex, we psychologically are limited to our choice,” says Chen
Though investigation, I found out that most homosexuals in both countries have suffered long term discrimination and unrecognized relationships which can lead to detrimental behaviors. In China, it was founded that 30% to 35% had ‘Strong Suicidal Thoughts’; 9% to 13% had ‘Suicidal Behavior’; 67% felt ‘Very Lonely’; and 63% felt ‘Quite Depressed’. Comparatively in Australia, suicide is also amongst the high levels of risk amongst lesbians and gays. Of the 4,824 people from the electoral roll in Canberra, it showed that gay men were at a higher risk to suicide than heterosexual men.
Chen says, “so much mutual victimization behavior only would appear when this group generally suffers severe rejection. It is not a personality problem. It is a reason why we really want to be respected from heterosexuals, and we think if the government approves gay marriage, it can influence the thought from the next generation and radically change the situation to be a more acceptable society.”
Although Australia is an multi-cultured country, Australia has been structured with a strong Christian belief. On October 22, 2013, when the Australian Capital approved the Marriage Equality Act, Sydney’s main Christian churches made a coordinated appeal against same-sex marriage straight from the pulpit in a bid to rally in opposition and arranged anti-gay marriage marches before the federal parliamentary vote. To clarify issues, I asked Lilian Chen (alias) a Christian, to understand why so many people disagree with same sex marriage. I met her at of a quiet restaurant close to her home.
“In Bible, God has taught us that homosexuality is crime. In Leviticus 20:13, it clearly states, that if a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Lilian Chen said, “ In fact, the same sex marriage is not only destroys traditional marriage, the ultimate conspiracy is to combat and destroy the church which was built by God.”
I asked her if the government approving the same sex relationship was part of protecting human rights?”
Lilian: “Protecting equal marriage rights is for those who meet the criteria of equal marriage. If the government approves legislation of same sex marriage, then, multilateral marriage (open sexual relationships), and even the human-animal marriages are likely to be approved in the future. If we do not approve it, people would say the activity is against the human right.”
Lilian also added “Moreover, If government approves legislation of same sex marriage, it might increase the rate of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).”
In 1981, the first cases of AIDS found in the world were a male homosexual. According to the Chinese Health Ministry’s figures released last year, the Chinese male homosexual HIV infection rate was reported to be 1.35%. This figure is nearly twenty times higher than the rate of infection general population.
Many people correspond the thought of AIDS with homosexuality. Due to a large population of homosexuals, and often accompanied by high-risk sexual behavior, homosexuals have a higher risk of AIDS.
Interview with Lilian Chen
In China, many homosexuals establish a family and have children with heterosexuals. But many of them conceal their homosexual identity to their wives in what is called “double life.” This is quite common situation in the homosexual community.
A potential danger is that if her husband is having sex with men who are infected with AIDS virus, his wife has very high probability to be infected. Once the virus spreads to many families, it would not be only that family which has be spread due to the “double life”. It is no longer a simple issue of homosexuality, but will evolve into a social problem. That is a reason why so many people would not support homosexuals, even the legislation of homosexuals’ marriage.
I asked Chen what option were available for homosexuals. Can it be “cured”?
Lilian: “ Yes, actually, I have seen many cases of homosexuals have been cured in our church after they follow the teaching from God and try their best to become a cleansed person.”
This view is not a common one, and one that is rejected by most experts and people in the community.
Like many homosexuals in China Jie admits she was taken to a psychiatrist when she was a teenager.
“ I used to force myself. I did not in speak or contact with any girls. I tried to look for boys but it made me unhappy, really unhappy. As long as I am such a person, I’d rather have nothing, I really think so.”
For Jie the treatment “failed”. “Once I started to find who I am, I found true peace in my mind. Correction or a treatment is based on an idea, the idea is that homosexuality is wrong thing. In fact, in nature, a tree does not have totally the same leaves. In the world, people are different as well. So, I want to get married with my lover, because I can not change who I am and I want to have the a same rights as heterosexuals.”
On the day, the Australia High Court overturned same-sex marriage laws, many Australians have posted their views on Twitter. Sarah Hanson-Yong is a Greens Senator, she said:
Actually, if everyone can treat the same sex marriage like what she thinks the future of same sex marriage would not be far away.