Alibaba, one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies, is flying ten couples from its native China to be wed in West Hollywood this summer.
The couples were among 400 who submitted videos online in a “We Do” contest sponsored before Valentine’s Day by Alibaba subsidiary Taobao and by Danlan.org, a gay news site in China that also is the creator of Blued, China’s leading gay dating app.
The couples will receive a week-long wedding and honeymoon package that includes a hotel stay and free flights. And they will be greeted by West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “I want to personally congratulate you on your love, courage and commitment for one another,” D’Amico said in a letter to the contestants. “We look forward to seeing you at your wedding in the city of West Hollywood.” The group wedding ceremony will be held at a not-yet-announced location in West Hollywood.
Same-sex marriages are not legal in China although there have been efforts to legalize them. According to a story on sina.com, the Chinese website, the Chinese government takes a “three no’s” view of homosexuality: “No approval; no disapproval; no promotion.” The Ministry of Health officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 2001.
“The […] couples know their marriage is not recognized under Chinese law, but they still want to get married in the US,” A Qiang (pseudonym), the head of PFLAG, told the Global Times.
Melanie Lee, a spokeswoman for Alibaba, said that the competition “hopes to evoke respect and understanding of homosexuality and support the realization of dreams,” despite same-sex marriage being illegal in China. “It’s more of a symbolic kind of gesture,” she added.