Move over Siri and Alexa, there’s a new same-sex wedding celebration making the news and it’s the kind that leaves you with a sense of pride. Last week, Taiwan made history by becoming the first Asian country to legalise gay marriage. Today, it’s paving the way to the future by being the first country in Asia where same-sex couples legally tied the knot.
This is a pretty big deal because the bill came through despite severe opposition from conservatives in the country, something activists like Chi Chia-wei have been fighting for for 30 years. Today, queer couples went all out with the PDA in front of the press as they gathered to register their marriage at a government office in downtown Taipei, proudly holding up their certificates that deemed their unions as legal.
Local authorities say that about 300 couples are expected to register their weddings through the course of the day, with at least 150 in the capital of Taipei itself. In their honour, the city hall is hosting an outdoor wedding party near the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper, and it’s going to be rainbows galore, with local and foreign dignitaries expected to attend along with all the families.
Shane Lin and Marc Yuan—a couple who fell for each other back in college—have sprinted out of the closet to be the first to register. “It’s not been an easy journey and I’m very lucky to have the support of my other half, my family and friends. Today I can say in front of so many people that we are gay and we are getting married. I’m really proud that my country is so progressive,” a teary Lin told local reporters.
Others like social worker Huang Mei-yu and her partner You Ya-ting had already held a religious ceremony in 2012, but were now finally eligible to get the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. “Now that same-sex marriage is legally recognised, I think my parents might finally feel that it’s real and stop trying to talk me into getting married (to a man),” said Huang.
But while this is day signals brighter days for the LGBTQ cause in Asia, the country remains divided. Same-sex marriage opponent and Stability of Power Alliance chiarman Sun Chi-Cheng was quoted saying, "Friday will be the darkest day in Taiwan's judiciary history.”
After being subject to a court deadline over the petition for gay marriage rights, the legislature finally passed a bill last Friday allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” as well as another clause that grants them the right to apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies. There are still cracks in strengthening the queer identity though. Same-sex couples still can’t have kids and can only adopt their partner’s biological children. Also, even the marriage rights are restricted to people within the country and one can only marry a foreigner if the country they’re from also legally recognises gay marriage.
Still, we live in a continent where LGBTQ rights range on a spectrum. So while India has just about decriminalised sex between queer couples but is still a long way away from giving them the right to be legally wedded, Brunei is still threatening to brutally beat them down. So moments like these at least make us feel like we’re closer to finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
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