Yu Ya-ting and Huang Mei-yu with Venerable Shih Chao-hwei (middle, first row) and guests
A lesbian couple was married on Saturday in the first known same-sex union in Taiwan – although the wedding was strictly ceremonial. Yu Ya-ting and Huang Mei-yu, both 30 years old, tied the knot in a temple in northern Taoyuan county, drawing a great deal of media coverage. They exchanged Buddhist beads and stamped their seals on a document in front of more than 100 guests. Before the ceremony, the couple wrote an open letter to President Ma Ying-jeou urging the government to legalize same-sex marriage as soon as possible. At the moment, Taiwan does not recognize same-sex marriage. Buddhists in general do not oppose same-sex marriage, said Venerable Shih Chao-hwei, who presided over the ceremony. In marriage, a couple vows to be loyal to each other. This can “stabilize their minds and eliminate improper thoughts,” she said. She believed Saturday’s event would give hope and support to the gay community. However, she said was unsure if the general public wanted the law revised. “Homosexual partners face inequality in this society,” she said, pointing out that the newlyweds still have practical problems “such as the right to have children and protect their property.” Saturday’s wedding ceremony is part of an ongoing campaign in Taiwan to push for legalizing same-sex marriage, said Father Louis Aldrich, who directs the Human Life Ethics Research Center at Fu Jen Catholic University. Noting that President Ma and the opposition party are sympathetic to the gay rights movement, Fr. Aldrich said he fears the government will push forward a hasty piece of legislation without adequate public discussion. The result may go against the wish of the majority, who still support marriages between a man and a woman, according to the priest. “It would be a serious attack on the freedom of the Catholic and Protestant Churches,” he said.