China Is About To Hear Its First-Ever Marriage Equality Case

Sun Wenlin, 26, is suing for his right to marry.

A court in Changsha, China will hear the first same-sex marriage case in the history of the country: Sun Wenlin, 26, is suing for his right to marry his partner.

Reuters reports, "Sun said he had tried to register to marry his boyfriend at the Furong district civil affairs bureau in June but was rejected by an official who told him 'marriage had to be between a man and woman.'"

Now, the case is being hailed as an "encouraging" step in path toward achieving marriage equality.

"I think from a legal point of view, we should be successful," Sun said. "Our marriage law says there is the freedom to marry and gender equality. These words can be applied to same-sex marriage."

Only in recent decades has China decided to repeal several of its most egregious anti-LGBT policies: In 1997, just under two decades ago, homosexuality was decriminalized. Homosexuality was also included on a list of mental disorders, which it remained on until 2001.

Sun's legal consultant expects the case to be heard in six months. "From the standpoint of improving visibility, this case is no doubt a victory," she said.