Many Chinese LGBT people engage in a fake marriage, also known as a “xinghun,” to avoid telling their families the truth about their sexual orientation.
This type of marriage involves a homosexual male and a lesbian female, notes The Global Post.
China considered homosexuality a criminal act until 1997 and a mental problem until 2001. LGBT people continue to face discrimination in China where it is also expected that people get married (to the opposite sex).
So these fake "cooperative marriages," as they are referred to in China's LGBT communities, serve a dual purpose.
However, gay men also marry straight women for their cover.
The Atlantic reported in 2013 that Professor Zhang Beichuan, of Qingdao University's Medical School, estimated that there were 20 million gay and bisexual men in the country. Of those 20 million, Beichuan believed that 80 percent of them married heterosexual wives, which would mean 16 million straight women are wed to homosexuals in China today.
Homosexuals and lesbians are also marrying because they believe it doesn't hurt heterosexual people and allows them more freedom.
Many of these fake married couples don't live together, but keep a communal home to fool families who visit. They may also leave items in each other's homes to create the illusion that they live together.
However, some of the people looking for fake spouses can be more demanding than real spouses when it comes to appearances and requirements.
“There are many more people who want to have a cooperative marriage than those who are actually in these marriages,” Stephanie Wang, a researcher and organizer in the LGBT community, told The Global Post.
Wang said that some of the fake marriages have ended badly where one spouse actually outed the other to their parents. There are also fights about money and whether or not to have kids.
Some straight Chinese people also engage in fake marriages in order to have children because of the state-sponsored discrimination against children who are born outside of marriage. Women, who want kids, may marry men whom they don't love just for this purpose.
Sources: The Global Post, The Atlantic / Photo Credit: kanegen/Flickr (not a fake wedding)