Two Taiwanese same-sex couples waved rainbow flags and shed tears of joy. On Friday, they tied the knot at a mass wedding hosted by the military at another landmark of the Asian LGBT community.
Taiwan is a pioneer of the burgeoning gay rights movement in Asia and was the first place in the region to allow same-sex marriage in May 2019 after a bloody political battle.
Nearly 200 couples performed at a military base in northern Taoyuan County before taking their vows at an outdoor ceremony.
Among them were two Taiwanese soldiers and their civilian same-sex partners, a first for the island’s armed forces, which regularly host mass weddings for employees.
“This is another big step forward for the military,” Lieutenant Chen Ying-hsuan told reporters in her army uniform.
“I hope that more same-sex couples can boldly stand out. The military is open and we are all equal to love,” added the 27-year-old.
“Our love is no different from any heterosexual couple,” beamed her 26-year-old bride Li Li-chen in a traditional white dress.
“We’re here today in the hope that more same-sex couples will attend the next (mass wedding).”
Major Wang Yi, 36, and partner Yumi Meng waved rainbow flags as they and their family posed for photos in front of an armored vehicle.
“It’s great to see the progress in the military,” said Meng, 37, adding that she was “proud” that her wife was a serving soldier.
– Pride marches and prayer breakfast –
Photos of the two couples went viral after being posted on the Army’s Facebook page earlier this week. Congratulatory messages came from all over Taiwan and beyond.
Three same-sex couples planned to attend a mass wedding hosted by the Navy and Air Force last year, but they pulled back due to massive media coverage.
Taiwan was once shaped by the warlike authoritarianism of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, but has developed into one of the most dynamic liberal democracies in Asia in recent decades.
In the past decade, it has become increasingly progressive on gay rights as Taipei hosts by far Asia’s largest annual pride parade.
Last year, Taiwan made history with the region’s first legal homosexual weddings after parliament passed same-sex marriage law that saw couples tie the knot in cheering scenes that air around the world.
Over 4,000 couples have registered their marriages since the law came into effect.
The island will hold its annual gay march on Saturday. Large crowds are expected in one of the few places that has managed to successfully beat the coronavirus pandemic.
But the problem has caused deep divisions on the island, especially among conservative religious groups and older generations.
President Tsai Ing-wen faced a backlash from some members of the Christian community after encouraging people to join the pride march on their social media accounts this year.
According to her, an annual prayer breakfast, to which the Taiwanese president is normally invited, has been canceled for the first time in 20 years.
Tsai supports gay rights and took a political risk at the time by advocating for gender equality.
But she was re-elected in January with a landslide.
Taiwanese LGBT groups held a smaller pride march in June – traditional month of pride – to show solidarity with gay communities around the world that were unable to celebrate due to the pandemic.
While the Gay Marriage Act was seen as a great success for the LGBT community in Taiwan, it still contains restrictions that heterosexual couples do not face, including adoption and foreign marriages.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)