Two women plan to tie the knot next month in Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding, as gay and lesbian groups push to make the island the first society in Asia to legalise gay marriage.
Fish Huang and her partner You Ya-ting, both 30, will receive their blessings from Master Shih Chao-hui at a Buddhist monastery on August 11.
"We decided to get married last year," Huang said today. "After being together for six years, we feel we need to make a life-long commitment to each other."
As a group of Buddhist monks and nuns chant sutras, the couple, both wearing white gowns, will declare their love for each other in a ceremony expected to be witnessed by dozens of close friends.
Huang, a social worker at a Buddhist cultural foundation, said her mother had promised to attend the event but her father remained undecided. "My father likes Ya-ting, and he says the marriage will make him feel like he has one more daughter," Huang said.
"Still, time and again, he has voiced his hope that I marry a man... In fact, my decision to marry Ya-ting is also meant to make him drop the thought." Taiwan is one of the most culturally liberal societies in East Asia, and gay and lesbian groups have been urging the government for years to make same-sex marriage legal.
In an event aimed at creating awareness about the issue, about 80 lesbian couples tied the knot in August last year in Taiwan's biggest same-sex wedding party, attracting about 1,000 friends, relatives and curious onlookers.
The island's cabinet in 2003 drafted a controversial bill to legalise same-sex marriages and allow homosexual couples to adopt children. However, President Ma Ying-jeou has said public consensus was needed before the government can move ahead with the law.