yearender_2013_february_sma001_38826673China: Members of China’s LGBT community say they are touched and inspired by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s message on Weibo urging tolerance on marriage between same-sex couples.

Cameron, who has 779,000 followers on China’s popular twitter-like service, had addressed his Chinese readers in a post on April 3 about his thoughts on UK’s introduction of gay marriage, reports

Legalization of marriage among same-sex couples came into effect in England and Wales on March 29.

“When people’s love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change,” Cameron said in the Chinese text that appeared to have been translated from an article he wrote for the UK-based Pink News.

Since opening his Weibo account in November, Cameron has posted 22 messages, mostly on topics about China. His post on same-sex marriage received more than 7,000 comments, with over 17,000 reposts as of April 3.

It also triggered a discussion among China’s LGBT community, reports

“As a Chinese gay man, I am deeply warmed by Cameron’s words,” said Hu Zhijun, a Guangzhou-based gay rights activist.  “This will definitely inspire the Chinese to fight for equal marriage rights.”

Hu, who along with other activists are urging China’s lawmakers to make equality a reality for the LGBT community, pointed out that most lawmakers either never thought gay rights was an issue or didn’t believe it’s an urgent topic.

China legalized adult gay sex in 1997 and removed same-sex relations from an official list of psychiatric diseases in 2001.

Marriage among same-sex is not legal and largely stigmatized because of the deeply held Chinese belief that children are required to marry and bear offspring to continue the family line.

Nonetheless, China’s LGBT community has become increasingly outspoken in recent years demanding equal rights.

“We still face big social pressure. It will take China many, many years to legalize gay marriage,” says sexual equality activist Li Yinhe.

Liang Wenhui, a Guangzhou-based student activist recently sent 3,000 letters to lawmakers calling for same-sex marriage and Xiang Xiaohan a 20-year-old man in the southern city of Changsha sued Hunan province for what he said were disparaging comments about the LGBT community.

“If gay and lesbian people have no place in China’s traditional culture, how can you encourage them to pursue the China Dream?” asks Xiang.

Their efforts and statements may seem small but openly questioning or protesting against the ruling Communist Party and the government is rare in a country where the regime views such action as dissent punishable with jail time.