Original Chinese Language Article: By Yi Re Qiu (一日囚)
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
Taiwan’s Taoyuan County was the venue for the island’s first marriage of two gay women, which occurred on the 11th of August, 2012, during a traditional Buddhist ceremony. The couple (who were deeply in love) are named ‘Mei Yu’ and ‘Ya Ting’, both of whom were 30 years old at the time of their marriage. Around 200 people attended the Buddhist marriage ceremony, and this number comprised family and friends – as well as Gay Activists. The Buddhist wedding ceremony included monastics reading from the sutras, chanting and granting blessings before the couple exchanged tokens of their love for one another. This gay marriage ceremony went ahead with no interference from the authorities despite the fact that same sex marriages were not, at the time, legal on the island. This did not deter Mei Yu or Ya Ting – who fell in love seven years ago – but did not want to continue to hid their relationship from society. With this marriage, the couple felt that ‘their relationship would be more complete’.
This was the first time that a gay couple had been married in Taiwan, and the fact that their marriage was conducted through a traditional ‘Buddhist’ ceremony marks a clarification of the Buddhist stance on same sex marriage. The presiding Buddhist nun – Dharma Master Zhao Hui – said:
“Buddhism does not prohibit lay-people of the same sex having a relationship, and so there is no reason why gay people cannot get married.”
In the broader community, the idea of a ‘Buddhist Gay Wedding’ did attract some criticism from conservative quarters, and this is exactly why the couple decided to go ahead with their plans. They wanted to draw attention to the existence and plight of gay people living within Chinese culture. In a joint statement, the couple said:
“For us this is a very significant step – not only for our private lives – but also symbolically for the gay community. We want to bring hope to all gay people by emphasising that Buddhism is not opposed to ‘Gayness’ or the principle of ‘Gay Marriage’.”
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2015.
Original Chinese Language Article