China witnessed its first court case for same-sex marriage rights after a man filed a complaint against a civil affairs bureau for refusing to register his marriage with another man.
Sun Wenlin (name changed), 26, a resident of Changsha in China's Hunan province, approached the civil affairs bureau in the Furong district of Changsha in June this year to register his marriage with his partner of one year.
However, the bureau rejected the marriage certificate application, claiming that only "one man and one woman" can be married in the country.
Sun filed a lawsuit against the bureau in a local Furong district court this month, making it the first case for gay marriage rights in China, Global Times reported on Tuesday.
A court official had also reportedly refused to entertain Sun's case for same-sex marriage rights, the report said, but later accepted the documents 'reluctantly'. The court is expected to respond by this week if it will accept the case.
China's law does not recognise same-sex marriage even though homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997.
However, Sun contested the court's argument of only allowing a man and a woman to register their marriage, claiming that the law only specifies that marriage should be between a 'husband and a wife'.
"The original text of the marriage law does not say one man and one woman, but a husband and a wife. I personally believe that this term refers not only to heterosexual couples but also to same-sex couples, to gay men and lesbians. The law is not discriminatory," he told the Global Times.
Sun had met his partner through an instant-messaging service, according to China Real Time, as gay dating apps gain traction in the otherwise conservative society.
In September this year, a video of a marriage proposal by a man to anther man on the Beijing underground train went viral on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.