"I find gay marriage bizarre"

On 16 June California became the second American state to give the green light to gay marriage. We asked our Observers, from China to Ghana, if there's a chance of seeing the same thing happen in their own countries.


Photo: Gino Ginelli on Flickr

On June 16, California became the second American state to give the green light to gay marriage. We asked our Observers, from China to Ghana, if there's a chance of seeing the same thing happen in their own countries.

"The US is an example to the rest of the world"

Matthieu Chimbault is the spokesperson for the French LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) Federation.

We're very pleased about this new law. Today, homosexual couples can marry side by side on the west coast of America. Let's hope it brings change to those states that are trying their hardest to rule out legalising gay marriage. The US is an example to the rest of the world. The wheels have been put into motion now, like we saw in Sweden.

In France, recent events have shown that even couples that get "pacsed" [agree to a civil partnership agreement less binding than marriage] are not considered the same way as those who are married. During his campaign, Sarkozy proposed the "civil union contract". It's actually a marriage contract, but he doesn't dare run with it bearing his name in fear of a backlash from the electorate. It's a shame because people are ready now."

"Our bodies weren’t designed to do that"

Charles Amega-Selorm is a blogger from Accra, Ghana.

I heard that gay marriage has been legalised in California. Here it's homosexuality in itself that's illegal. Ghana is a very religious country. Most people are Christian, but we also have some Muslims too. There are of course, some activists who are trying to change the law. But the authorities make it quite clear that it's not going to happen.

Personally, I'm against gay marriage. I think that homosexuality goes against nature. It spreads diseases and our bodies just weren't designed to do that. On top of that I'm Christian so I find it morally wrong. However, if one of my friends came out to me, I wouldn't outright disown him. I'd respect his choice."

"We don't take the gay marriage thing seriously"

Michael Anti is a political reporter from Beijing, China.

We don't take the gay marriage thing seriously in China. It's seen as something fun, something western. And we're very private. There's a kind of "don't ask" policy. I have a gay friend but he never actually says it, not even to his friends. Couples just live together - no one has a problem with that, and gay people don't seem to mind not being able to get married. Even though we have a long history with homosexuality in our culture, it's just not mainstream. But neither is it frowned upon - there's very little homophobia in China. There were some prejudices a few years ago after the AIDS scare, but people are getting increasingly tolerant now. However, I can't see gay marriage happening in the near future. It's just not an issue here."

"I find gay marriage bizarre"

Awab Alvi is a dentist from Karachi, Pakistan.

I find gay marriage bizarre. Being married is perceived as a structure set up to produce children and there's no medical possibility for two men to do that yet. I'm a married man and I believe that the woman is definitely an important member of the family for the children, while it's the responsibility of the man to go out to earn a living and bring money home. Although my wife works too, there are certain divides - which would come into question with two men or two women.

As a doctor I interact professionally with gays and don't find them offensive. I believe people have their own will and for us to enforce religious elements on that is not fair. They do "get married", secretly, and I suppose, why not? I would advise them not to do it though - if future generations come and can't raise children in the natural sense it will upset the natural course of life. Besides, the male/ female relationship is so entrenched in the Islamic religion that the legalisation of gay marriage wouldn't even happen in 50 years here."

"I'm sorry to say our country is pretty slow in many ways"

Meema Spadola produced a documentary called Our House about growing up with gay parents. She herself grew up with a lesbian mother and a straight father in Maine, USA.

I'm fearful that this change [in law in California] will create a backlash and become a big issue in the US elections this year. Americans get very hysterical about "traditional marriage" - which isn't even actually that traditional, but quite recent. The idea that gay marriage will destroy same-sex marriage is a joke for me. It's a civil right. I'm sorry to say our country is pretty slow in many ways. Look at Spain - they're a Catholic country and they've got it. We'll look back at it like we did at the interacial marriage ban and think "that was crazy!"

Gay parents are just like any others. You get the same frustrations, love and clashes at home. It's incredibly normal. The nuclear family has never really been the model. There have always been single parents, extended families etc. This is a very conservative country - change really scares people. But once we elect Obama, everything will change!"