With same-sex marriage still being illegal in China, the Chinese LGBTQ population looks elsewhere when finding a place to tie the knot. Over the last couple of years, Saipan has seen more and more tourists coming to exchange vows. Saipan is the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, a United States commonwealth located in the Pacific Ocean.

When the United States legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, the ruling applied to the U.S. commonwealths as well. With Saipan’s proximity to China, it has become a growing choice for destination weddings of LGBTQ Chinese couples. 

“The upward trend of same-sex marriages started out with the Saipan Mayor’s Office officiating 12 same-sex marriages in 2015,” according to the Saipan Tribune. “Half of the same-sex marriage certificates issued that year were Chinese tourists. In 2016, there was a significant jump in same-sex marriages as 30 marriage licenses where issued, 25 of which were issued to same-sex Chinese couples.”

While these marriages are not considered legal in China, couples are still looking fo

The Saipan Tribune spoke with Jial Lyu, a Chinese tourist who married his husband in Saipan. 

“Lyu told Saipan Tribune that he and his husband have been together for five years, but because same sex-marriage is not legalized in China, they had to find another way to tie the knot. According to Lyu, he and his husband stumbled across a video on the internet of two Chinese women who ventured to Saipan and tied the knot. This is what inspired the Lyus to pack up for a trip to Saipan and solemnize their union.”

Couples can receive a marriage license in Saipan for 50 USD. As long as same-sex marriage is legal in the United States, the mayor of Saipan will continue to perform marriages for couples from all over the world.