Chinese LGBTQ-plus couples are using digital technology to circumvent China’s non-recognition of same-sex marriages.
Since 2021, around 200 Chinese and Hong Kong couples have tied the knot via virtual weddings hosted in the state of Utah, and in particular, Utah County.
Because the state does not impose citizenship requirements for marriage licenses, Utah County began conducting virtual weddings for international couples online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To take part in such ceremonies, at least one of the people involved in the wedding, including the officiant, must be physically in the state.
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Since same sex marriages have been legal in Utah since 2014, Utah County has become a virtual venue for same-sex couples who are unable to wed in their respective countries.
The Utah County Clerk reported last year that it performed 3,500 virtual weddings for international couples, including those from Azerbaijan, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, France, Guam, Iceland, Kenya and Madagascar. The Chinese government may have decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, but same-sex marriages remain illegal in the country. Hong Kong, which provides special benefits to married couples, also has yet to recognize LGBTQ-plus unions.
Newlyweds Xu Yanzhou and Zhu Xiaoming spent around $100 for their wedding, which was conducted via Zoom in July.
According to the couple, they decided to do the virtual wedding instead of traveling overseas after learning that a close friend got married via Zoom.
“It sounded very cheap and convenient,” Xu was quoted as saying.