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China's 'fake-marriage market' a growing trend

In China, gays and lesbians struggle to blend in with tradition.

By Kristin Wong Feb 7, 2013 11:01PM

In a culture where tradition is everything, same-sex relationships aren't exactly endorsed. In fact, in China, gay relationships on TV or in movies are often censored.

Thus, China's 'fake-marriage market' is a gathering in which gays and lesbians meet to organize heterosexual marriages.

Sham marriages are a growing issue in China. The country's gay population often find themselves coerced into traditional, opposite-sex marriages; Bloomberg reports that 16 million Chinese women are married to gay men. The country even has a title for these women: tongqi.

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Many of these wives have no previous knowledge of their husband's homosexuality and only realize their orientation after discovering pornography or extramarital affairs. Naturally, this often becomes a legal issue. In one example from a Chinese news outlet, a wife who realizes she's a fake seeks to receive compensatory damages after her divorce.

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A Qiang is a gay blogger who often writes about these fake marriages. He described the mindset behind the issue:

“Some homosexuals cannot face social prejudice and discrimination, so they hide their sexual orientation with a heterosexual marriage rather than be discriminated against; Chinese traditional culture emphasizes children and the continuation of the family line, and heterosexual marriage is a convenient way to get children; there is an inadequate, comprehensive social safety net, so some homosexuals enter heterosexual marriage for the sense of security."

Hence the birth of the "fake marriage market." Slate.com reporter Nicola Davison recently visited one of these gatherings in Shangai, where she quoted a man referenced as "No. 11:"

"I'm here to find a lesbian, to be with me and to build a home. In my view, a 30-year-old man should start thinking about having a family, but two men can't hold each other's hands in the street. We're not allowed to be a family."

Not all of these heterosexual marriages are intentionally fake, however. Qiang also points out that "many people do not understand their own sexuality at the time of marriage."

Bing: Donald Trump speaks out against gay marriage.

More from The Heart Beat:

Cohabitating couples get married for the kids
Study: BMW drivers more likely to cheat
Men no longer willing to pay for first date

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Photo: @mr.jerry/Getty Images

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