The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, Xinhua, the official government news agency, reported.
The plaintiff, a resident of Hunan's capital, Changsha, who uses the pseudonym Xiang Xiaohan, said local officials made defamatory statements when they rejected his application for recognition. He said he was told that homosexuality is "against tradition and the construction of cultural and ideological progress."
The man said he was turned down during several visits to the civil affairs bureau and officials have not responded to his protests. He now wants a retraction of the statement on homosexuality and an apology.
"That statement is detrimental to the reputation of the gay community," Xiang said.
Xiang and some of his other friends launched an online campaign in 2009 but say they have been stymied by lack of official recognition.
China stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in 2001, 11 years after the World Health Organization did so. But anti-gay feeling remains strong in many parts of the country.