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Same-sex couples marry in mass wedding hosted by the Taipei government for the first time

Same-sex couples marry in mass wedding hosted by the Taipei government for the first time

Ten same-sex couples were married in a mass wedding on Saturday in a government-hosted event that for the first time allowed same-sex couples to participate since the twice-yearly event started in 1973.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je presided over the event which saw 123 couples tie the knot at the University of Taipei’s sports stadium.

LGBT rights activist Nelson Chen who participated in the mass wedding with his partner Kao Chih-wei said, ‘The wedding today not only marks the 10th anniversary of our happiness and companionship, it is also our way to show practical support for the Taipei city government, for its decision to include gay couples in its mass wedding.’

‘Even though same-sex marriage is not yet legalized in Taiwan, if more gay couples can bravely come forward, it will set a great example for the public,’ Chen told Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

The couple, who has been campaigning for same-sex marriage in Taiwan, first held a public wedding banquet in 2006 and later filed a legal suit to have their marriage recognized.

The event in Taipei was held a day after the city of Taoyuan became the first city in Taiwan to allow same-sex couples to participate in a mass wedding.

Despite the city governments being the hosts of the events, the marriages between same-sex couples is symbolic and not legally binding as same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Taiwan.

Gay activists however see the move as precursor to the government eventually recognizing same-sex marriage.

Jennifer Lu, a gay rights advocate and legislative candidate, and her partner Chen Ling who also married at the event said, ‘Finally, after such a long time, small progress is being made in the gay rights movement.

‘Next, we are looking forward to acceleration in the legislative process.’

Although a same-sex marriage bill passed the first reading in 2013, it has stalled since then.

Bills must pass three readings in the Legislature before being sent to the president to be promulgated.

According to the Taipei Times, Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung have promised to include same-sex couples in their public mass weddings while New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu and Tainan Mayor William Lai have declined to do so claiming that it is inappropriate to do so before same-sex marriage is officially recognized by the government.