Social media apps facilitating gay man marrying lesbians is becoming popular in China because of the need to appease conservative parents, conform to social norms and avoid stigma and discrimination.
There already exists a dating app Queers that can connect gay men with more than 4,000 lesbians seeking partners for such a “cooperative marriage.”
Queers is a pioneering app in China “where LGBT relationships still face serious discrimination and fierce opposition from conservatives, especially older family members” who pressure their children to get married, reports The South China Morning Post.
“Even well-educated Chinese who might be open-minded about LGBT issues tend to find it difficult to accept if their own children are gay,” the newspaper reported.
Such a marriage agreement between a gay man and lesbian woman even has a special name in Chinese and is called “xinghun.” The couple for social conformity reasons keep up with the appearance of heterosexuality while continuing to live their gay lives.
“We have had about 10,000 [gay and lesbian] users in less than two weeks after the launch” on January 5, Liao Zhuoying, co-founder of Queers was quoted as saying.
Another site Chinagayles.com – China’s largest xinghun dating website has nearly 380,000 registered users since its launch in 2005. “In a cooperative marriage, both parties are aware that the so-called marriage is simply a white lie, a compromise to social bias,” the website states.
Chinagayles.com not only lets gays and lesbians find companionship but also offers prenuptial agreements to cover the obvious issues such as inheritance and childbearing.
“If marriage were not considered mandatory on mainland China, and people were not stigmatised for staying single, xinghun would not be necessary [for the homosexual community],” Stephanie Wang, who researched this form of marriage told The South China Morning Post.
“But even before the idea of xinghun flourished in online forums gay men in China have for decades been marrying straight women – without telling them the secret,” the newspaper reported.
The Atlantic periodical, citing Zhang Beichuan, a professor at Qingdao University's medical school who did some research into this kind of marriage, reported that "there are 20 million gay and bisexual men in China, of whom around 80% have married straight women.
This means that around 16 million heterosexual women in China today are married to gay men." China legalized adult gay sex in 1997 and removed same-sex relations from an official list of psychiatric diseases in 2001 but many gay men in China marry and have children because of pressure from their parents and to avoid social stigma.
Marriage among same-sex couples is not legal and largely stigmatized because of the deeply held Chinese belief that children are required to marry and bear offspring to continue the family line.