The first same-sex couples to get married in Asia tied the knot in Taiwan on Friday (24 May).
At least 289 same-sex couples were expected to marry at Household Registration Offices across the country.
Shane Lin and Marc Yuan and Chun-peng Chou and Meng-huan Lin were among the nation’s first to get married.
They signed marriage registration documents in the nation’s capital, Taipei.
Legendary LGBTI rights activist Chi Chia-wei, who bought the same-sex marriage case to court, witnessed the historic occasion.
He signed certificates with a pen gifted to him by President Tsai Ing-wen to mark the occasion.
Couples held up newly-issued identity cards with the names of their new spouses on them.
Couples later gathered in a park in the nation’s capital for a ceremony attended by local politicians and foreign dignitaries.
Asia’s first same-sex married couples
Cynical Chick and LiYing Chien were one of the first to tie the knot at a Marriage Registration Office in Taipei.
Cynical Chick, who is a well-known cartoonist, has no surviving family members. She relished the opportunity to start her own family.
Chun-Peng and Lin Meng-Huan got married on Friday. They have been together for eight years but decided to get married after a devastating referendum loss for LGBTI people last year.
Marc Yuan and Shane Lin met in college and have been together for 12 years.
They got engaged at their favorite singers pop concert last year.
‘I feel very lucky that I can say this out loud to everyone: I am gay and I am getting married,’ Lin told reporters gathered at the marriage office.
‘I am extremely proud of my country Taiwan’ he said.
Amber and Huan have been together for three years. In 2017, they started a YouTube channel.
They deem marriage as the legal recognition of an intimate relationship and the bond does not form or break up on a whim.
Novelist Chen Xue and her partner Antonia Chen, also completed the marriage registration procedure on Friday.
They first held a marriage ceremony ten years ago.
‘Marriage is a union between two lovers. It is a free, independent and voluntary choice’ Xue said.
‘Instead of being a binding institution, marriage is based on mutual consent and its beginning and conclusion cannot be forced’.
Ya-Ting and Mei-Yu held a Buddhist wedding ceremony seven years ago. On Friday, their parents were there as witnesses of the official registration.
First in Asia
Taiwan’s parliament last week became the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
The government bill, which largely avoids the term ‘marriage’, has been labeled a compromise by LGBTI rights campaigners.
In 2017, the country’s highest court ruled the Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriage.
But, in a bitterly-fought referendum, most Taiwanese citizens opted for a separate marriage law rather than changing the civil code which would have brought genuine equality.
LGBTI rights campaigners accused conservative and Christian groups of running a well-funded campaign of hate and scare-mongering.
Taiwan’s parliament voted in favor of a government bill offering same-sex couples similar rights to opposite-sex couples after years of court rulings, referendums, and tussles in parliament.
The crucial 4th line of the bill passed with 93 lawmakers voting for the bill, 66 opposing, and 27 abstaining.
Thousands of LGBTI rights supporters gathered outside parliament and cheered as the vote was announced.
In a last-minute effort to appease conservative lawmakers, Taiwan’s ruling party removed the word ‘marriage’ from the bill.
But, same-sex couples can still get register for marriage in the same way as other couples.
Couples can only adopt children if the child is the biological child of one of the couple.
Taiwanese citizens can only marry people of the same-sex that come from a country (there are 26 of them) that has legalized same-sex marriage.
Taiwan is the regional leader for LGBTI rights. Thailand’s ruling junta last year submitted a union bill to cabinet, affording limited rights to same-sex couples.