Today I stumbled across two statistics I thought were worth putting next to each other. The first is that by 2020, it’s estimated there will be 24 million more marrying age Chinese men than women, due largely to the one-child policy. No big surprise there.
The second stat was what intrigued me. The number of gay men in China is estimated at 25 million; and as many as 90% of them get married to unwitting heterosexual women – so sayeth a University of Shanghai sexologist.
Granted, it’s something very hard to get an accurate stat on. Another professor from Qingdao University put the number at 80%. But either way, it’s a long stretch from the 15-20% of American gay men in sham marriages with straight women.
Family and societal pressures usually force men in China to get married and have a kid, regardless if that’s what they want. But that’s only scratching the surface of the problem. In a country where homosexuality is so taboo, many gay people fail to even admit to themselves that they’re gay or that their feelings are normal. Sex education is dismal even for heterosexual topics. Homosexuality wouldn’t be touched with a ten foot pole.
But let’s review:
- 24 million excess bachelors
- 25 million gay men (20-22 million of whom appear to be nabbing up straight women they have no interest in being with except to satisfy perceived social obligations)
Given these two numbers, you would think the government would encourage gay men to be as gay as possible so they can free up some of the precious few women. Then they could maybe avoid some of the huge social problems predicted to come with the gender imbalance – like a 5% increase in crime for every 1% increase in sex ratio.
China isn’t a religious country and throughout history it was relatively tolerant to homosexuality. It could easily alleviate the number of gay men snatching up straight women by legalizing gay marriage, teaching in schools that homosexuality is normal, or at least, you know, stop treating it as criminal activity (which it actually was until 1997). But the government is choosing to placate traditionally-minded Chinese who, at worst, would be a little shocked by these measures. And they’re doing so at the expense of mitigating a worsening social crisis that could pose a challenge to their authority.
Presumably if they did take measures to erase the stigma of homosexuality, lesbians would offset a lot of the gains made by taking homosexual men out of the competition for wives. I wasn’t able to find as many stats on lesbians in China, but the same Qingdao professor mentioned earlier estimates there are half as many lesbians in China as gay men. And international studies tend to agree that lesbians make up a significantly lower proportion of the population than gay men in general. So this suggests de-stigmatizing homosexuality in China would be a net positive for the gender imbalance.
All these statistics are admittedly questionable. It’s hard to get reliable stats on anything in China, let alone on something like homosexuality – which has notoriously sporadic findings around the world. But if helping mitigate the side effects of the gender imbalance isn’t a convincing enough reason for the government to take measures at de-stigmatizing homosexuality, they could at least do it for the millions of innocent heterosexuals who stumble into loveless, sexless marriages.