Supporters of legalizing same-sex marriage in Taiwan hosted a wedding event Sunday where around 80 lesbian couples wed in symbolic ceremonies.
The event, held overnight in downtown Taipei, attracted a reported 1,000 visitors which included friends and relatives of the brides and also non-related members of the public. They saw the female couples, many of whom opted for traditional wedding dresses, make vows of commitment to one another.
“I feel very hopeful that Taiwan will legalise same-sex marriage soon,” said one of the brides, 32-year-old stylist Celine Chen, who plans a honeymoon in New York, which in June became the sixth US state to legalise gay marriage.
Many of the couples kissed, hugged and posed for photographs while receiving an unofficial certificate from the organisers that stated they were now “united in holy matrimony”.
The event climaxed with a couple exchanging rings and saying “I do” amid roaring cheers from the crowd.
Taiwan is evolving on acceptance of same-sex couples and while same-sex marriage is not legal in the country, the event went ahead without police interference.
Legislators in 2003 drafted a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and allow for joint adoption rights for same-sex couples. The issue has not been acted on since then and President Ma Ying-jeou, while not ruling out the enacting of marriage equality, has said that a public consensus would have to be reached before legalization would be moved.
Based on this, and while noting a general level of tolerance, some same-sex couples feel that without the government taking a lead on the issue, progress may be a long time in coming.
‘It is too difficult now as the Taiwanese culture and customs are still more conservative,’ said kindergarten teacher Jessica, who declined to give her last name and who keeps her sexual orientation from her colleagues.
In July a group of parents dedicated to ensuring their LGBT children grow up free of discrimination and bullying, officially banded together to create Loving Parents of LGBT Taiwan. The group says it has dedicated itself to ensuring children grow up in a country where LGBT citizens are treated equally.
At a July press conference announcing the formation of the group leaders were keen to praise the government’s enacting of an LGBT-inclusive school curriculum that will see age-appropriate LGBT issues introduced into school lessons from elementary school age.