BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in China on Wednesday rejected a landmark case by two men who had sought permission to get legally married, one of the plaintiffs said, a decision that shines the light on gay rights in the world's most populous nation.
While homosexuality is not illegal in China, and large cities have thriving gay scenes, same-sex marriage is not legal, and same-sex couples have no legal protections.
In what activists hailed as a step forward for gay rights, Sun Wenlin, 26, had lodged the suit with a court in the southern Chinese city of Changsha against a civil affairs bureau that denied him the right to marry.
But after a short hearing, the court turned down his request to marry, Sun said.
"Of course I'm not very pleased about it but I'm not going to give up," he told Reuters by telephone. "I plan to appeal."
Sun said he had filed the lawsuit in December because he wanted to form a family unit with his 36-year-old partner.
Sun previously told Reuters 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".
Officials at the Furong district civil affairs bureau could not be reached for comment. Court officials also could not be reached for comment.
China is becoming more tolerant of homosexuality, which until 2001 was listed as a mental disorder, but many gay people remain under heavy pressure to stay in the closet.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez