A group of Chinese lawyers is calling for their government to allow civil partnerships and otherwise extend equal rights to same-sex couples, according to the official Xinhua news service.

At the 2013 China LGBT Community Consultation conference organized by the United Nations Development Programme in Beijing last week, lawyer Liu Wei of Chinese firm Angelo Chen Law Office, said a growing number of clients are consulting lawyers about the legal rights of same-sex couples. According to Xinhua, Liu has a history of advocating on behalf of minority groups.

Chinese citizens in same-sex relationships are currently excluded from a range of rights in property ownership, inheritance and child adoption, said Liu. In Shanghai, many gays cannot own a home because the city has banned unmarried, non-native residents from purchasing property, she noted.

In May, Liu and seven other Chinese lawyers submitted a petition to the legislative affairs commissions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in May.

Huang Yizhi of Ruifeng Law Office also signed the petition. “We don't expect our proposal to be adopted by legislators at once,” he said to Xinhua. “To be frank, the possibility is nearly zero, but we hope our appeal may prompt them and the public to pay attention to this issue.”

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