CHANGSHA, China (AP) — Several hundred gay rights supporters gathered Wednesday outside a court in central China for the country's first same-sex marriage lawsuit, a landmark moment for gay rights in China.
The court in the city of Changsha was hearing a case filed by Sun Wenlin, 26, who sued the city's civil affairs bureau after the government office rejected his application to register his marriage to his partner Hu Mingliang.
"I hope I can pave the way as far and wide as possible so that people who want to do the same will see how much we have tried and what possibilities can there be," Sun told The Associated Press in an interview the night before the hearing.
A ruling is expected later Wednesday.
The lawsuit comes amid growing awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in China, where society and the government have generally frowned on non-traditional expressions of gender and sexuality.
China doesn't legally recognize same-sex marriage and officials with the central government have said they do not see the law changing soon.
Sun, Hu and their lawyer entered the Furong District courthouse amid cheers from roughly 300 supporters, some of whom had waited outside since 5 a.m. or traveled overnight from neighboring provinces. Court officials turned away hundreds after letting in 100 spectators and pleaded with fervent college students to understand that they were at capacity.
Sun, speaking to AP in the apartment he shares with Hu, said that police visited him at home to try to talk him out of pursuing the lawsuit but they left after he reiterated his conviction.
He said he wanted to set a legal precedent for same-sex marriage in China.
While homosexuality is not illegal in China, the country's LGBT movement is still in its infancy and it is rare for same-sex couples to live openly.
Follow Gerry Shih on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gerryshih
Video journalist Wayne Zhang contributed to this report.