TAOYUAN, Taiwan – Two lesbian couples became on Friday the first Taiwanese Army soldiers to be married with their respective partners at a mass wedding ceremony that was officiated by the island’s Armed Forces.
This was the first time a mass wedding, which the Taiwanese army has held every year since 2014, included same-sex couples since Taiwan legalized gay marriage in 2019, making it the only place in Asia to allow such unions.
Three same-sex couples had been lined up to be wedded at the army’s mass ceremony last year, but those plans were shelved at the last minute due to social pressure, according to military sources quoted in local media.
At the Taoyuan military base in northeast Taiwan, commander Wang Yi, 36, and her now-wife, Meng Yumi, a 37-year-old yoga instructor, gave their “I Dos,” along with the lieutenant Chen Yinh-hsuan, 27, and her partner Li Li-chen, 26.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Army command said that the defense ministry’s approach to same-sex weddings, which it called “open and progressive,” is the same as for heterosexual couples.
Speaking to CNA news channel, newlywed Chen said: “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.”
The atmosphere at the ceremony, held on the eve of Taipei’s Pride parade, where another 186 couples tied the knot, was one of celebration and joy.
Wang and Meng held the gay pride rainbow flag during the ceremony. Meng explained that her parents were struggling to accept her sexuality but that her new in-laws were fully supportive and had turned out to celebrate the occasion.
Same-sex couples had to wait for decades for equal marriage laws, which were passed in May last year when the top court ruled the existing ban to be against the constitution, forcing lawmakers to drum up new legislation.
An ample majority of 66 MPs voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, while only 27 opposed it.