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Taiwan sees first same-sex Buddhist wedding

posted 11 Aug 2012, 05:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Aug 2012, 05:35 ]

Two women wed in Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding, though not recognised legally.

TAOYUAN, TAIWAN (AUGUST 11, 2012) (REUTERS) - As Buddhist monks and nuns chanted sutras, two brides in white wedding gowns tied the knot in Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding on Saturday (August 11).

In front of a golden Buddha statue, You Ya-ting (pron: Yo Ya-ting) and Fish Huang, both 30, promised each other eternal love under the witness of Buddhist Master Shi Zhao-hui.

The couple have been dating for six years and decided to get married despite the lack of recognition in Taiwanese law.

Huang's friend, Lin Jin-ru, said the wedding was important because it could help strengthen the case for legalizing same-sex marriage in the future.

"I give them my biggest blessings. At the same time, their wedding is very important, even though the government and the law do not recognize it. But they actually do get married, and will spend their lives together. Many same-sex couples spend their lives together. Now they have bravely stood up (for themselves), hopefully they can be seen as a reference to the government in the future. People are already doing this. There is no need to deny the existence of these weddings," Lin said.

At the finale of the wedding, the brides together stamped self-made wedding certificate that bore no legal power, and as witness the Buddhist master also added her stamp.

In a post-wedding news conference, Huang recalled her parents' reaction when she first announced her intention to marry You.

"I remember when I told my parents that we would get married, their first question was, 'Is this legal?' All I could tell them was, 'It will be soon,' but I don't know how soon. So we've always hoped that it would become legal. For us, for our family, this is very important. Thank you," Huang said.

Local media, quoting an anonymous Buddhist master, reported that Buddhism is not against same-sex marriage as long as it does not hurt other people.

Master Shi said she was ready to face "trouble" in the future for leading the two women's wedding ceremony, adding she was impressed by the brides' courage.

"Ultimately it boils down to one thing. My concept, gathered from the Buddhist scriptures and from my own analysis, is this -- a pair of cute girls came to me and asked me to take action. So I could not say one thing and do another. In fact the whole thing is this simple. Of course, I know in the future this will cause me a lot of trouble. But I thought, when these two children dare to accept this challenge, then how can I have the slightest selfish thought to protect myself?" Master Shi said.

Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy, a non-government organization that supports gay rights, gave blessings to You and Huang, according to local reports.

Nine years ago, the island's cabinet drafted a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt children, but President Ma Ying-jeou said public consensus was needed to move ahead with the law, according to local reports.