Taipei: Taiwan’s first official same-sex weddings kicked off Friday in a landmark moment for LGBT rights in Asia as gay couples took the historic step of registering as married, the culmination of a three-decade fight for equality.
Shane Lin and Marc Yuan, a couple who fell in love at college, were the first to arrive at a government office situated in the downtown part of the city. Dressed in matching suits, they embraced and kissed in front of a huge media scrum before signing their marriage certificates. They were followed by playwright LiYing Chien and her girlfriend, a cartoonist who goes by the pen name ‘Cynical Chick’.
Taiwan made history last week when it became the first country in Asia to legalise gay marriage, sparking jubilation among the fraternity. But the issue has also caused deep divisions on an island that remains staunchly conservative, especially outside of the cities and among older generations.
Some 300 same-sex couples are expected to register on Friday, according to local authorities, around 150 in this capital city which boasts a thriving and vocal gay community.
The City Hall will co-host an outdoor wedding party near the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper, with local and foreign dignitaries expected to attend.
Among those planning to tie the knot Friday was social worker Huang Mei-yu, marrying her partner You Ya-ting. “I am feeling nervous even though we already had a ceremony in 2012,” she told this agency, referring to a religious blessing conducted by a progressive Buddhist master. “But I am also very happy as it’s faster than I had expected. I had thought I would have to wait 10 more years,” she added.
For veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei, the weddings Friday are the culmination of a three-decade long fight trying to persuade successive governments to change the law.
It was Chi who eventually petitioned Taiwan’s Constitutional Court leading to a 2017 judgement that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional.