Brian Davisdon, the British consul-general to Shanghai, married his partner, Scott Chang at a ceremony held in the garden of the official residence of Britain’s ambassador to China, which is UK territory.
Gay marriage is not legal in China, but the wedding vows are legally binding because they took place on sovereign British territory. UK nationals in same-sex relationships can marry at British consulates in 24 countries around the world following the introduction of new rules in June and as long as the host country doesn’t object. Although China has not yet objected, Hong Kong has, making same-sex unions at the consulate impossible, claimed the South China Morning Post.
Although homosexuality is not illegal in China, it is still regarded as taboo, with many clinics that claim to ‘cure’ same-sex attraction by administering electroshock therapy and hypnosis.
The wedding was a private event, but pictures posted online by the British Ambassador, Sir Sebastian Wood and Davidson himself prompted a fierce debate about gay rights in China, with Davidson posting a picture of himself and his partner with the hashtag “Love is Great”, which was shared more than 60, 000 times.
Speaking to The Independent, Davidson said: “Obviously Scott and I are very happy to have this opportunity to marry under British law. We are very proud that the UK is one of the few countries in the world to make this happen.”
He added: “It speaks to our principles of equality in the UK. Most of our Chinese friends have said happy they were to see us standing up to say we love each other.”