Lifestyle & Belief

Lesbian couple plan Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding


A same sex couple cut a cake during a mass 'wedding' party event in Taipei on August 21, 2011.


Sam Yeh

Two women plan to marry in Taiwan's first-ever Buddhist gay wedding, AFP reported today. The two 30-year-old women, Fish Huang and You Ya-ting, both 30, will marry on August 11 at a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan's Taoyuan county, in a traditional Buddhist ceremony.

Gay marriage, although still invalid before the law, is nothing new in Taiwan. Last year, 60 lesbian couples took part in a record-breaking mass wedding, partially to draw attention the issue of same-sex marriage in Taiwan. Also in 2011, Taiwan hosted the 8th annual Taiwan Pride parade, where more than 50,000 turned out for the event. 

Taiwan is remarkably open to homosexual relationships as compared to elsewhere in Asia, the GlobalPost reported last year. A 2010 poll found 80 percent of Taiwanese approved of same-sex couples, while television programs portraying gay relationships in a positive or neutral light were relatively common. 

Opposition to gays does exist in Taiwan: conservative Christian groups continue to pressure politicans to avoid fully embracing the gay community. A widely-publicized 2003 bill drafted by the Taiwanese cabinet, which would have legalized gay marriage and given same sex couples permission to adopt children, hasn't moved forward yet. 

Buddhism, according to AFP, does not have specific strictures against homosexuality, although Buddhist clerics disagree on the details. 

Buddhist Master Shih Chao-hui, who will perform the wedding ceremony, told AFP she feels her action is an expression of Buddhism's essential spirit. 

"I would like stand up to give blessings to the couple because I hope my step can embody the spirit of Buddhism spreading compassion throughout the world," she said.