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Woman's suicide brings 'gay wives' plight to the fore

By Li Qian (Shanghai Daily)

11:11, March 20, 2013

The issue of gay men getting married to cover their homosexuality was back in the headlines after a court in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, heard how a woman was forced to commit suicide after her husband proclaimed he was gay on a social networking website.

An embarrassed Luo Li, a 31-year-old teacher with a PhD, leaped from her 13th-floor apartment on June 15, 2012, after her husband Cheng Wei declared he was gay.

Cheng admitted his homosexuality on a popular social networking website and that he married Luo to conceal his gay identity, Chengdu Evening News reported yesterday.

The open volte-face was too much for Luo who took the extreme step of ending her life.

Luo's parents filed a lawsuit against Cheng, demanding 630,000 yuan (US$101,304) in compensation but a district court denied their request, maintaining that Luo should take full responsibility for her action.

The parents have appealed the ruling. The trial got underway at the city's intermediate people's court yesterday. No verdict was announced but the case attracted a lot of attention over the miserable life of "gay wives."

Many gay men in China marry and have children because of the social stigma and pressure from parents. Most Chinese believe continuing a family's bloodline is an obligation for men.

An estimated 80 to 90 percent of gay men in China get married, trapping their spouses into unhappy union, according to retired Qingdao University Professor Zhang Beichuan.

Nearly 10 million Chinese women are victims of such unhappy alliance, Zhang was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

But despite a surge of divorce cases in China, it is still difficult for women to break free because of social stigma.

Chinese law also does not help much as it is difficult to prove that their partners are in homosexual relationships.

Even when divorce is an option, the stigma haunts many former wives.

"When I told the guys I dated that my ex-husband was gay, some of them worried that I could be an HIV carrier, since that's the image attached to gays in most Chinese minds," said Xiao Yao, founder of a website named "Tongqijiayuan" (Gay wives's homeland).

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