China: Gay couple in Beijing become first to take advantage of new legal rights

A same-sex couple in Beijing have become the first in the city to complete the process of being named as each other’s legal guardian in what is being seen as a major step forward in the protection of LGBT rights.

The unnamed couple were married overseas, but their union is not legally recognised in China. However, the guardianship process – completed through the Beijing Guoxin Notary Public Office – will allow them to make their partner the beneficiary of their will and confer other legal protections, Beijing News reported on Thursday.

The couple, who have been together for 10 years, took the decision so they can act as legal guardians for each other when they grow old or need hospital treatment. Same-sex couples are not able to marry or adopt under existing laws in China, but since 2017 all adults have been able to appoint their own legal guardian to act on their behalf should they partly or completely lose their mental capacity, for example when undergoing medial treatment. Previously only the elderly were allowed to do so.

Before the Beijing case, more than 10 LGBT couples in other cities – including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu – have gone through similar procedures to acquire what is often likened to a marriage certificate, according to Peng Yanzi, director of Guangzhou-based LGBT Rights Advocacy China, a non-profit organisation. Read more via SCMP