Two lesbian couples tied the knot in a wedding held by Taiwan’s military on Friday.
The mass wedding of 188 couples was the first time same-sex couples have ever been included at a Taiwanese military marriage ceremony.
Taiwan is the only Asian country to have legalised same-sex marriage, with more than 4,000 such couples marrying since the legislation passed in May 2019. According to the most recent government data, 69% of same-sex marriages were between lesbian couples.
“We are hoping that more LGBT people in the military can bravely stand up, because our military is very open-minded. In matters of love, everyone will be treated equally,” said Chen Ying-hsuan, 27, an army lieutenant who married Li Li-chen, 26.
Chen wore a rainbow wristband and said she has always been open about her sexual orientation while serving, reports the Associated Press.
The ceremony at an army base in the northern city of Taoyuan featured the couples in a parade and then exchanging rings in front of family members and senior officers.
Yumi Meng, 37, and her wife, Wang Yi, 36, wiped back tears as they exchanged rings. Yumi’s parents chose not to attend the wedding, but both of Wang’s parents were there to support the couple.
“This is a huge breakthrough for the military because gay people really had to go through a lot in the past,” said Amy Chao, Wang’s mother. “Perhaps for heterosexual couples, it’s just a piece of paper, but it’s very important for gay couples.”
Victoria Hsu, the co-founder of Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, told AP, “We hope the armed forces’ attitude towards the LGBT community in Taiwan is becoming more supportive than before.”
Lieutenant General Yang An told reporters at the wedding, “Our attitude is that everyone should be treated equally, and we congratulate each and every couple. This shows that our military’s position is open-minded, progressive and with the times.”