Beijing: An estimated 16 million women in
China may be married to homosexual men, "silently suffering"
the consequences to sustain their wedlock, a leading Chinese
expert claimed on Friday.
Prof Zhang Bei-chuan from Qingdao University, who
researches on AIDS and HIV, said that about 90 per cent of
homosexual men marry because of pressure to follow traditional
values prevalent in the country.
"But their wives are struggling to cope and their plight
should be recognised," he was quoted by the state-run China
Daily. About 16 million women in China may be married to
homosexual men, he claimed.
Xiao Yao, a 29-year-old magazine editor in Xi`an, Shaanxi
province, divorced her gay husband in 2008.
"Most gay men`s wives I`ve known are silently suffering
at the hands of husbands who could never love them, and like
me, some even got abused by husbands who were also under great
pressure," she said.
She runs a website which has 1,200 such women registered
as users and says it "makes them feel they`re not alone and
empowers them to make the right choices."
However, the gay community is split on the claim.
"Zhang`s estimation is unsubstantiated and I even feel
it`s pointless to research the issue," Xiao Dong, a
36-year-old gay, who heads a civil organisation for HIV/AIDS
prevention and control, said.
"To put gays` wives under the spotlight might cause more
public misunderstanding or even hatred toward the gay
population, which does not help defuse existing social
discrimination against them," he said, while adding that the
question of marriage is complicated for them.
However, Meng Lin, a 50-year-old gay from Beijing,
believes that Zhang`s estimation is reasonable.
"I myself almost married a woman many years ago, but
finally gave up when I learnt I was HIV positive," he said.
"Gay men and gays` wives are both victims of social
discrimination and stigma, so we should not simply blame one
party," he added.
Wang Zi (name changed) said that he would never tell his
parents the truth and while he does not want a heterosexual
marriage, he would consider it so as not to hurt the feelings
of his parents.
"I may marry a lesbian and we can keep going with our own
lifestyle more honestly," the 27-year-old said.