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Same-sex couples married in Christian church

2013/12/24 22:03:21

Taipei, Dec. 24 (CNA) While a draft bill allowing gay marriages and family unions has been at the Legislative Yuan for review since October, three same-sex couples could not wait any longer and tied the knot at the Luce Memorial Chapel Tuesday in Taichung, central Taiwan.

The couples exchanged wedding vows and rings before Rev. Elias Tseng, Taiwan's first openly homosexual pastor, at the ceremony held at the chapel on the campus of Tunghai University.

"I have a small mind. There is only enough room for you," one of the lesbian couples said as her wedding vow, which moved some of the audience, including Chen Chia-chun, the wife of former opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Shih Ming-teh.

Regardless of whether they are homosexual or heterosexual, couples who have decided to spend their lives together should have the right to receive blessings from everyone, said Tseng.

Milly Hou, one of the organizers of the ceremony, said she wants to encourage all people to pursue their love because many of her gay friends are afraid of coming out of the closet and are upset that they have to keep their relationships secret because of social pressure.

"I think people should be given equal rights in front of the law, and if heterosexual couples are allowed to have happiness, gay people should also be allowed the same right," Hou said.

Lu Bing-kuan, chief secretary of the university, said the school respects students and people's rights to voice their opinions on public issues.

Supporters of the draft bill, which would also allow married gay couples to adopt children, held a parade at the campus ahead of the wedding ceremony organized by the Taiwan GDi Association, the Taiwan LGBT Pride and various student groups.

Gay, lesbian and civil rights groups in Taiwan have been pushing for the legalization of such unions for years. Last month, however, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei in protest against the bill.

The wedding ceremony has no validity in the eyes of the law.

(By Chen Ching-ping and Maia Huang)