There’s a beautiful word in Hindi, “Jugaad”. Jugaad means to find a way around, through innovative and inventive methods. Usually, those who know to identify a loophole can also find ways to work with it to achieve their motives. And in China, the ban on homosexual marriages follows the same phenomenon.
China is subtle in very many ways. In the year 1997, homosexuality was decriminalised in China. But this decriminalisation does not equate to the acknowledgment of the LGBTQ+ community in China. The people are not punished for talking about LGBTQ+ related issues but are silenced on social media platforms.
But the instance that is discussed below has the involvement of social media, official recognition of homosexual couples, and working around the law. This incident in China has three parallel lines of laws that resulted in the way it did today. Hooliganism, Guardianship Appointment and the official and legal recognition of LGBTQ+.
Believe it or not, homosexuality was considered a type of Hooliganism and liu mang. Liu Mang is basically any act that is contrary to social or public order. According to Scroll, hooliganism only became law in 1979 under Deng Xiaoping’s reform agenda. This was aimed to support social-economic transformations through spiritual reform.
As homosexuality was legalised under hooliganism, the legal provision allowed for the state to denounce homosexuality as antisocial behaviour that begets attention.
But in 1997, the Chinese law removed hooliganism but the moral conviction of homosexuality stayed. Eventually, homosexuality was decriminalisation, but this did not translate into official or legal recognition of homosexuals.
In 2017, the Guardianship Appointment was extended to all citizens who perform their civil affairs. Simply put, Guardian Appointment is a procedure where people assign a legal guardian for medical emergencies, and property assignment and management. It was initially meant for elderly people. But the LGBTQ+, and specifically, the homosexuals decided to opt for this, all because of one special case.
Fo Ge and Love
Fo Ge (pseudo-name) and her girlfriend were together for 10 years. They then decided to have a baby through IVF two years ago. This made them decide to become each other’s legal guardian. But to their realisation, it was not allowed.
Soon, they consulted the local notary public office who helped them formalise obligation they had for each other through Guardianship Appointment. Many Chinese provinces follow this to approve same-sex guardianship.
Reportedly, Fo Ge and her girlfriend were the first-ever homosexual couple to successfully obtain such a legal right and recognition in China.
This mechanism helps homosexual partners bind each other in legal obligations. And yet most documents still acknowledge the partners as friends and not as spouses.
Since the Chinese laws are yet to actually recognise and protect same-sex couples in marriage or relationships, the couples are doing their best with what they have. And finally, same-sex couples now have been legally recognised. Even if is not through the traditional marriage setup.
The awareness about Legal Guardianship gained awareness because of two posts. One that went up on the 19th of July, titled Guardianship appointment: bridging love within the LGBT community. Published by Nanjing Notary Public Office, the article elaborated upon the legal guardianship system. And how it could “sufficiently protect LGBT rights”.
Following that, a post went up on the 5th of August which announced the first notarisation of mutual guardianship agreement which was requested by people in Beijing on their WeChat.
After a while, both the posts were unavailable on the site. And there was nothing to explain the taking down of the two posts. Although some have reached the conculsion that the government had something to do with its removal. But this gave people enough to preserve the articles and keep the discussions around it going.
You have to admit, this is a pretty good Jugaad. Raising voice, creating a revolution and going on marches are time staking and do not always promise positive outcomes. The toughest situations give rise to the smartest solutions. The usage of the Guardianship Appointment to allow same-sex partners to assign their obligations to one another legally, it helps make their relationship recognized by the country.
And mind you, this definitely does not mean that the LGBT+ activists in China have backed down from challenging the bureaucracy, legal uncertainty, and entrenched social norms. They are constantly making efforts to make sure that their place is certain in society.
The Three Nos
The Chinese government has a policy of Three No’s when it comes to the treatment of homosexuality: “No approval, No disapproval, and No promotion”.
And the Chinese media has lived up to it. As Scroll has reported, “there was no news coverage in China about the government’s backing of the UN Human Right’s Council’s LGBT+ recommendations.”
There are very rare occasions when we appreciate ambiguous laws and rules. This is one of those rare instances. This allows for a certain degree of flexibility in the living conditions of the homosexuals, and does not stop LGBTQ+ members from forming a community.