The Chinese branch of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has recently begun a social media campaign urging gay Chinese men not to enter into sham marriages with straight women.
The campaign comes after recent Chinese media articles revealed the difficulties that ‘tongqi’ (straight women who marry gay men) face.
Now PFLAG is encouraging gay men on Chinese social network Weibo to post selfies of themselves holding signs with the message “I’m gay and won’t marry a straight person.”
Parents too have posted pictures of themselves with signs declaring they would not pressure their children into marriage.
“This campaign is not meant as criticism of gay people who marry straight people,” PFLAG China spokesperson Zhou Ying said.
“We just want to encourage gay people to treasure themselves, to live the lives they want, to be who they truly are… and we want to push the message of equal rights.”
Homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, but marriage equality is still not allowed.
“Many homosexuals because of various pressures get forced into marriages of convenience with straight people, or even real marriages,” a man named Peng Peng (pictured), who is taking part in PFLAG’s campaign, explained to the BBC.
“This sort of marriage situation is a form of disloyalty, for many gay people the great institution of marriage has really turned into love’s graveyard.”
Kenneth Cheung, the founder of LGBTI rights group Rainbow China has also expressed support for the campaign and has encouraged more gay men to get involved.
“Firstly this would be a personal assertion – that we are gay men, not monsters. Also, it is a self-constraint, that even if society wishes to discriminate against us, we will not be willing to harm the innocent,” he told the BBC.
“I hope that when straight people see this, they would understand that the issue of LGBT rights closely affects them too, and thus garners more support for marriage equality.”