On Friday, Taiwan created history with Asia’s first legal gay weddings as same-sex couples tied the knot in jubilant and emotional scenes, the culmination of a three-decade fight for equality.
The weddings, which came a week after lawmakers took the unprecedented decision to legalise gay marriage despite staunch conservative opposition, places Taiwan at the vanguard of the burgeoning gay rights movement in Asia.
Some dozen couples were among the first to arrive at a government office in downtown Taipei to legally register their relationships as marriages.
Among those tying the knot were social worker Huang Mei-yu and her partner You Ya-ting.
They held a religious blessing conducted by a progressive Buddhist master in 2012 but longed for the same legal rights granted heterosexuals.
“It’s belated, but I’m still happy we can officially get married in this lifetime,” Huang told AFP after signing her marriage certificate, clutching a bouquet and beaming.
Legal recognition of their love, she said, was a crucial step and might help others accept their relationship.
“Now that same-sex marriage is legally recognised, I think my parents might finally feel that it’s real and stop trying to talk me into getting married (to a man),” she said.
Shane Lin and Marc Yuan, who fell in love at college, were the first to register.
“It’s not been an easy journey and I’m very lucky to have the support of my other half, my family and friends,” Lin told reporters through tears.
“Today I can say in front of so many people that we are gay and we are getting married. I’m really proud that my country is so progressive,” he added.