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China paper splashes nation's 'first' gay marriage

Homosexuality in China took another stride forward Wednesday with the official English-language China Daily splashing a front-page photo of the nation's first publicly "married" gay couple.

world Updated: Jan 13, 2010 11:11 IST

Homosexuality in China took another stride forward Wednesday with the official English-language China Daily splashing a front-page photo of the nation's first publicly "married" gay couple.

Zeng Anquan and Pan Wenjie tied the knot in a wedding ceremony at a gay bar in the southwest city of Chengdu on January 3, the paper said, calling it "the first such public event in the country".

Homosexuality in China is still an extremely sensitive issue and was up until 2001 officially considered a mental illness. Same-sex marriages are not recognised.

"We are no longer hiding any more. The wedding is our happiest and most precious moment," Zeng, a 45-year-old divorced architect, told the paper.

"Thousands of gays and lesbians get married in France, Finland, the UK. Why couldn't we?"

Such sensitivities have also quickly put an end to the couple's matrimonial bliss, as the families of the two men have come out against the wedding.

"My sister warned me she would never call me her brother unless I break up with Pan and I have answered hundreds of phone calls from friends and relatives who say they feel ashamed of me," said Zeng.

"But we are deeply in love and will never desert each other," he said of his 27-year-old lover, a demobilised soldier.

According to Chinese experts, there are an estimated 30 million homosexuals in China, with 20 million of them men, the paper said.

Last month, China's first government-backed gay bar opened in the tourist town of Dali in southwestern Yunnan province, after a three-week delay sparked by intense media attention, in a bid to boost HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

On Friday, the country's first gay pageant is scheduled to be held in Beijing to choose the Asian nation's candidate for the Mr Gay World contest in Norway next month, organisers said.