Can Same Sex Couples Get Married in China?

Now Shenzhen   |   January 12, 2024

·About The Author·

  • Author of Chinese Law Books: Intellectual Property, Commercial, Company and Economic Law In A Minute
  • Author of English Law Book Business Law In A Minute
  • Co-Author of Peking University Textbook: Business Ethics
  • Graduated from Fudan University Law School
  • Interviewed by Bloomberg and Timeout
  • Mentor at Bloom Education (Charity)

Wechat: lawinamin 

Email:[email protected]

CHINA LAW 101: Video 70

This is the 14th video of the Falling In Love In China Chapter.


To watch the video, click the image above.

Up to 2023, 34 countries and regions, including France, Argentina, Germany, Spain, and Sweden, have legalized same-sex marriage, allowing two men or two women to marry. The issue of same-sex marriage has sparked intense debates and discussions worldwide, with varying legal approaches adopted by different countries. In China, a nation with a rich history and a unique cultural context, the question of whether same-sex marriage is legal has become a topic of significant interest.

In China, our legal framework for marriage is primarily governed by the Marriage Law and the recently enacted Civil Code. While these laws do not explicitly allow or prohibit same-sex marriage, they do specify that marriage should be between a man and a woman. This language reflects the traditional understanding of marriage rooted in biological distinctions between genders.


However, we must acknowledge the challenges faced by same-sex couples in our country. When these couples seek recognition and legal protection for their relationships, they often encounter rejection from the Civil Affairs Bureau. Their unions do not conform to the traditional interpretation of marriage within our existing legal framework.

Advocates for same-sex marriage in China have put forth legal arguments to support their cause. They highlight that the Constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees gender equality, arguing that this principle should extend to marriage rights. Additionally, they contend that since the Criminal Law's prohibition on group licentiousness applies to all genders equally, same-sex couples should be allowed to register their marriages.


However, despite these legal arguments, Chinese courts have consistently maintained that our current legal framework does not accommodate same-sex marriage. They emphasize that the Marriage Law expressly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. While the Constitution guarantees gender equality, courts interpret this principle narrowly, stating that it does not extend to same-sex marriage.

Chinese law does not explicitly prohibit marriage between individuals who have undergone gender reassignment surgery. When individuals undergo gender reassignment, their natural identity changes, and they also legally change their gender registration on their household registration documents through proper procedures. As long as the two are consistent, their marriage is considered legitimate. Therefore, whether it is the previous marriage laws or the current Civil Code, the requirement for the subjects of marriage remains one man and one woman.