On August 5, we reported that a growing number of same-sex couples are applying to have thier partners become legal guardians as a way to establish legal recognition of their relationships. While the news is encouraging, it’s important to note that this is far from a common practice: According to Sohu News (in Chinese), most notary offices in China reject such applications from same-sex couples.
Now it seems this discrimination-fueled legal barrier has started to crumble: iFeng reports (in Chinese) that Beijing just granted the city’s first legal guardianship for a same-sex couple, marking the first approval of such a case in northern China.
According to Beijing Guoxin public notary office, the case was submitted by a gay couple who have been together for over 10 years and have obtained a marriage license in a foreign country. But because Chinese laws prohibit same-sex marriage, the couple worried that rights wouldn’t be protected in some situations — issues with inheritance and who can make medical decisions if one partner is incapacitated are typical reasons cited by same sex applicants for guardianship.
The notary office also said that the couple had reached out to them after being inspired by recent news about other same-sex couples taking this approach. “This is a good example of how the new guardianship program and making living wills can protect the rights of special groups and maintain social stability,” the office said in a statement.
The news was met with a flood of praise from social media users. Some people however took issue with the wording in the office’s announcement — critics says calling gay and lesbian couples “special groups,” is an indication of prejudice. “I hope one day they’ll stop calling them special groups,” wrote one Weibo user (in Chinese), while another said “It takes time for things to change. This is a huge step forward.”