Why are so few LGBT Chinese couples taking advantage of laws that could protect their rights?

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09/08/2019

A gay couple in Beijing recently made national headlines when they became the first same-sex couple to become each other’s legal guardian. The option – which allows them to authorise medical treatment and confers the highest degree of legal protection available in a country where gay marriage is still prohibited – has been open to same-sex couples for two years, but so far only a dozen or so couples have taken advantage of it. While the publicity the unnamed Beijing couple attracted may have helped raise awareness of a change in the law that many members of China’s LGBT community did not know about, many of those who have tried to take advantage of the measure have faced a series of other barriers. Even successful applicants have found the process complex and time-consuming. The notary needs to meet the applicant several times to discuss the specific terms of the notarisation, mostly in microscopic detail, such as whether the guardian is allowed to sell their house to pay for the partner’s hospital treatment.

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