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Photograph: Freeimages.com / Owen Parry

A Chinese court has agreed to hear the country's first same-sex marriage case, filed by a gay man in the southern province of Hunan, media reports said.

Sun Wenlin, 26, filed the lawsuit in December and said that a court in Changsha accepted it this week, according to the South China Morning Post.

Sun said he was confident in his chances for success.

"Our marriage law says there is freedom to marry and gender equality. These words can be applied to same-sex marriage," he said.

Sun tried to register to marry his 36-year-old partner at a civil affairs bureau in June but was told by an official he could not since "marriage had to be between a man and a woman," the report said.

Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but same-sex marriage is not permitted and same-sex couples do not have the same legal protections as married heterosexual couples.

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