Buddhist monks bless gay wedding in Taiwan
Two women became the first gay couple to get married in Taiwan this month, in a little ceremony that has attracted worldwide attention, support from equality groups, and sparked national debate about same-sex unions.
Ironically, while their wedding was blessed by their faith, it's not legal by law. Fish Huang Mei-yu and You Ya-ting, both 30, tied the knot at a Buddhist monastery in Guanyin Township of Taoyuan County. Their nuptials were done according to religious rites, so their marriage isn't recognised by the government.
But it was the first lesbian wedding in Taiwan and LGBT groups are hoping this will make the country the first in Asia to legalise same-sex unions. Over 100 friends and relatives witnessed the ceremony. However, the absence of couple's parents was a sad reminder of their struggle for acceptance.
"Our parents initially agreed to attend, but they felt they weren't prepared for the media exposure, so they decided not to come. We understand that people have different acceptance of media exposure and we want to give them space," Fish told reporters before the wedding.
"My family couldn't accept (my sexual orientation) at first. So when we started dating seven years ago, I took Ya-ting home frequently and let them know who I was going out with and gradually they accepted it," she said. Meanwhile, her partner's parents only learned their daughter was gay when they were planning her wedding.
According to Taipei Times, the brides wore white gowns, said "I do" before a statue of Buddha, and exchanged prayer beads instead of rings after reciting chants and a teaching on the meaning of marriage. Nearly 300 Buddhists chanted sutras to seek blessings for them.
"Congratulations to both of you," said Venerable Shih Chao-hui, who presided over the ritual. Shih, a prominent Buddhist icon in Taiwan and a strong advocate of gender equality and social justice, announced, "I am certain you will lead a life of happiness together, especially after you have overcome so much difficulty and societal discrimination."
"You have blessings not only from the Buddha, but also those whom you may or may not know who are in attendance. We are witnessing history. The two women are willing to stand out and fight for their fate, to overcome social discrimination."
The happy couple have since written an open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou, urging his government to recognise same-sex unions.
"We're not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians," said Fish. "It is meaningful to us that our wedding can give hope to other homosexuals and help heterosexuals understand how Buddhism views sexuality."
Chuang Chiao-ju, a member of the Taiwan LGBT Rights Advocacy, said, "Marriage is a basic right and the Constitution protects the equal rights of each citizen of this country to enjoy equal rights."
Source: Taipei Times
Published: 22nd August 2012
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