TAIPEI – Around 20 same-sex couples registered on Friday their marriage officially in Taipei, the state run Central News Agency reported, a week after Taiwan became the first territory or country in Asia to recognize same-sex unions.
A gay couple, who have been in a relationship for the past 12 years, were one of the first to get married at the Household Registration Office in the Taiwanese capital.
“Being gay in Taiwan has not been easy. I feel lucky to have had the support of my friends, family and better half,” Hsiao Hsuan, who still remembers the first time the gay pride flag was hoisted in Taiwan, told reporters.
“I waved a rainbow flag so hard throughout the parade, but I was too afraid to take it out on my way home,” he said.
For the 56-year-old Lipin Xie, it has been a long wait. She has been with her partner for the last 36 years.
Another lesbian couple, Yu Ya-ting and Huang Mei-yu also seemed content after registering their marriage, which they said was a “long-overdue legal process.”
“Our first marriage took place in 2012 and today is our second one. We now have the blessing not only of the gods, but also our parents and society,” Huang said.
Taiwan made history last Friday after its parliament passed the bill to legalize same-sex marriages with 66 votes in favor and 27 against.
The country’s top court ruled in 2017 that homosexual couples should have the same marriage rights as heterosexuals, and gave parliament a two-year deadline, which was to expire on May 24, to implement or make amendments to the law.
“This is a milestone with a huge significance, for China (the official name of Taiwan is Republic of China) as well as Asia as a whole,” LGBT organization PFLAG China head Ah Qiang told EFE.
Ah said that the new law “shows that the society of Confucian culture can also accept same-sex couples.”
“For the gay community, marriage equality has put an end to prejudice and discrimination, where gays were considered second class citizens. Now they have gained equality and dignity that they deserve,” said the activist, adding that there was still a lot to be done.
“Equality before law is only one aspect. Taiwanese society still needs to promote acceptance of the LGBT community,” Ah said.
The activist also hoped that this change would have a “positive effect” in mainland China, where homosexuals still remain closeted.
Even though homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, and declassified as a mental disorder in 2001, several Chinese people continue to view this sexual attraction as a disease.
The Chinese government does not have any measures to protect this community of some 70 million in the country.