The People’s Republic of China is the most populated country in the world. As the Chinese culture is nothing like any culture we know in Europe, there is a steep learning curve for traveling to China. There are a few important barriers, like language and habits which can also be seen as an interesting reason to visit the immense country. China has a rich and diverse cultural heritage and learning about the country is fascinating and entertaining. Due to its huge territory, there is a great diversity of scenery, climate, and surroundings. Most visitors stick to visiting the main cities, which are generally overpopulated and busy. But the Chinese countryside has so much to offer and has some of the most splendid natural phenomenon and sights. The major cities tend to be quite tolerant towards gay and lesbian people, while the smaller rural communities may be more hesitant. Keep reading to find out about China LGBT rights.
LGBT rights and travel in China
China’s top visited places include larger cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu and the independent Hong Kong or Macau. But a lot of travel agency bring visitors into the more offbeat and natural places like Yangshuo and the Karst mountain regions. Getting around China can be tricky for travelers who don’t speak Chinese, like us. We wrote a comprehensive guide about train travel in China. For us, it seemed easier to book a tour to travel the largest part of the country, after we traveled independently for 2 weeks. Both options are interesting and enriching. If you decide on booking a tour to China, we definitely recommend this G Adventures tour!
LGBT rights and travel in China - Only Once Today
Post Last Updated: Oktober 2017

LGBT Rights in China

China has gone a long way in criminalizing and decriminalizing homosexuality over the ages and dynasties. Until today, LGBT face a lot of challenges in China, that straight people don’t have to deal with.


Homosexuality is legal in China since 1997. In 2001 it was finally declassified as a mental disorder.

Domestic Partnership

Same-sex relations are widely unrecognized and unprotected. Beijing currently offers a residence status to foreign LGBT partners of residents. Hong Kong has included LGBT into its Domestic Violence Ordinance. 

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is illegal in China. Chinese law defines marriage as a union between a woman and a man. 

Same-Sex Adoption

Adoption in China is only possible in heterosexual marriages. Chinese children can not be adopted by same-sex couples anywhere in the world. 

Change Legal Gender

Changing your legal gender is possible in China. It requires surgery and is available for people over 20 years old. 

LGBT Safety in China

The Chinese Labour Law specifies that discrimination, based on ethnicity, gender or religion is prohibited. It doesn’t say anything about sexual orientation and gender expression. China basically doesn’t have any legal protection for LGBT in any area. Even though conversion therapy is still practiced in many parts of China, it is actually illegal.

In some regions, LGBT is more visible than in other regions, but it is mostly invisible in most areas of China.

As a tourist, you won’t be likely to encounter a lot of trouble. The stares Chinese people will give you are based on your ethnicity and not on your being LGBT! Even if Chinese don’t approve of your relationship or presence, they’re not likely to act on it.

Keep Reading

Shanghai appears to be one of the more LGBT tolerant places, as you can read in this post about a lesbian couple who moved to China.

Read about the LGBT pride in Shanghai. Hong Kong also features a Pride festival.

Is Chengdu the gay capital of China?



Unfortunately, hate crimes can occur at any place and any time! Public display of affection can always trigger people to respond in a negative way. Try to be cautious and aware of your surroundings.

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