Huang Mei-yu (left) and Yu Ya-ting (right) have been together for seven years. On Aug. 11, they married in a Buddhist ceremony in Taiwan, where homosexuality is widely accepted, though same-sex marriage is still not recognized.
Here, the women hug entertainer Chu Hui-chen, whose 26-year-old lesbian daughter killed herself in May.
The brides wore matching veils at the ceremony. Opinions on gay marriage range within Buddhism, though modern teachers generally don’t condemn homosexuality.
They told reporters that they hoped the Buddhist ceremony would move more Taiwanese people to support legalization. About 80 percent of Taiwan’s population is Buddhist.
Buddhist Master Shih Chao-hwei performed the ceremony, giving the women her full support: “I am certain you will lead a life of happiness together, especially after you have overcome so much difficulty and societal discrimination,” she said. “You have blessings not only from the Buddha, but also from those whom you may or may not know who are in attendance.”
The brides exchanged beads — the Buddhist equivalent of “You may now kiss the bride.”
Their wedding comes one year after an enormous demonstration in Taipei, where 80 lesbian couples staged a Barbie-and-Barbie wedding.
Since 2003, Taipei has also been host to the largest gay pride parade in Asia.
A same-sex marriage legalization bill has been spurring debate in Taiwan for nearly 10 years. Although the bill hasn’t been approved, it was the first of its kind in Asia.
In 2006, Taiwan president Ma Ying-Jeou, then the mayor of Taipei, said “gay rights are part of human rights.” Since becoming president, however, he’s done little to get the bill approved.
Here, the brides stamp their names in front of a Buddhist statue in the prayer hall.
Their parents did not attend the ceremony. “My parents have known my sexual orientation for many years, but at first, they couldn’t really accept it,” Huang told reporters. “Our parents originally agreed to come to our wedding, but they felt they were not prepared for the media exposure, so they decided not to come.”
“I remember when I told my parents that we would get married, their first question was, ‘Is this legal?’” Huang told reporters. “I could only say to them that it would soon, but I didn’t know when would be considered soon. So we hope it will become legal. For us and for our families, it is very important.”