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Indigenous lesbian couple 'adopts' daughter in tribal ceremony

2015/01/04 19:52

CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 4 (CNA) An indigenous village in southern Taiwan witnessed a special ceremony Friday to recognize the adoption of a child raised by same-sex relatives for over a decade.

The ceremony held by the Rukai residents of Labuwan village in Pingtung County has no legal bearing because same-sex marriage and adoption are not recognized in Taiwan. Regardless, the villagers formally celebrated the lesbian couple's assumption of the roles of mother and father for their middle school-aged daughter.

The couple, 52 and 48, go by the nicknames Peng Ke and Hsiao Tsui. They have been together for 30 years and began raising their daughter, nicknamed Hsuan Hsuan, 10 years ago.

Peng Ke's younger sister Peng Yu-hua, a former chief of Labawan, explained that tribe members without their own children can adopt if it is recognized by the whole village.

"This is just a traditional tribal adoption ceremony because my sister isn't married and doesn't have any children," Peng Yu-hua said. "Hsuan Hsuan has grown up with my sister for 10 years, so the family and the village talked about it at length and decided to let my sister formally adopt her as a daughter."

"Having children is a good thing," said Peng Ke's own adoptive mother, adding that even though the new family's makeup is untraditional, "we don't think this is a bad family."

Peng Ke herself said she does not care what people may say about her family and will focus on how to bring up Hsuan Hsuan.

Even so, she said she is worried that when Hsuan Hsuan gets her national ID card next year, she will find it strange that the "parents" field does not list Peng Ke and Hsiao Tsui.

The extended family hopes that as the little girl grows up, she can gradually come to understand her family's unique identity.

(By Kuo Chih-hsuan and Jeffrey Wu)ENDITEM/WH