Gay and lesbian couples in Taiwan have not let an official ban on marriage equality stop them from holding wedding ceremonies. The first took place in 1996, and in July 2011, soon after New York State legalized marriage equality, 80 lesbian couples took part in a wedding ceremony in hopes that Taiwan would soon officially recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples.
Fish Huang’s wedding to her partner of nearly seven years holds one important distinction: The two women will be married by a Buddhist master, making theirs the first Buddhist wedding between a gay or lesbian couple in Taiwan. Over a third of Taiwan’s population follows Buddhist teachings, making it the most populous religious group in the state. Buddhist perspectives on LGBT people vary widely. Early Buddhist texts make no special or distinct mention of gay or lesbian people, and though some traditions developed later prohibitions on relations between two people of the same gender, Chinese Buddhism, which is most widely practiced in Taiwan, holds one of the more tolerant attitudes toward gay and lesbian people, as described in the writings of Hsing Yun, a highly regarded Chinese Buddhist monk.
Although the Taiwanese typically hold a more accepting view of LGBT people than is found in surrounding countries, the percentage of people who are fully supportive is still far lower than in the United States, and LGBT people still feel pressure to pursue relationships and marriage with members of the opposite gender. But when Fish Huang sent a message to The Buddhist master Shih Chao-hwei, asking if her relationship could be supported by Buddhist teaching, she quickly received a reply that “Buddhism shows no bias” toward gay and lesbian people and an offer for master Shih Chao-hwei to host their wedding.
Fish Huang hopes that her wedding will give hope to other gay and lesbian Buddhist couples in Taiwan, saying: “It’s difficult enough to maintain a relationship [...] how could you be so stingy as to begrudge a couple for wanting to get married, regardless of their sexual orientation?”
GLAAD congratulates Fish Huang and her partner on their wedding and wishes them a happy and healthy future.