A monastery in north Taiwan's Taoyuan County held the nation's first same-sex Buddhist wedding Saturday, signaling dying opposition in the Asian nation towards gay rights.
Though no countries in Asia have legalized same-sex marriages, Vietnam and Nepal have also been in news recently for the remarkable progress made in recognizing gay rights. In Taiwan, a landmark bill to legalize gay marriage has been pending since 2003.
Huang Mei-yu and her partner of seven years, Yu Ya-ting, decided to wed in a Buddhist service to acknowledge their own faith and to help promote same-sex union in the predominantly Buddhist society of Taiwan, according to a report in the Taipei Times.
The wedding was attended by a sizeable crowd, but the couple's parents were conspicuous by their absence.
"My parents have known my sexual orientation for many years, but at first, they couldn't really accept it," Huang told the media before the wedding. "So, when we started dating seven years ago, I took her (Yu) home frequently to meet my family and let them know who I was going out with and gradually, they came to accept it."
"Our parents originally agreed to come to our wedding, but they felt they were not prepared for the media exposure, so they decided not to come," Huang was quoted as saying by the Taipei Times.
Indonesian newspaper Jakarta Globe said in a commentary that the Buddhist attitude towards same-sex union was markedly different from the religious opposition faced by the West.
Shih Chao-hui, a well-known Buddhist social activist who presided over the ceremony, blessed the couple after the wedding.
"Buddhism does not dismiss homosexuality from an ideological point of view, and in Confucianism it's a grey area, so eastern societies tend to be more open-minded towards homosexuality," Shih said.
"I think this is their human right. They can choose freely to get married and we should respect them," Chih Chun, a Buddhist nun who attended the ceremony, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe. "It makes no difference if couples are heterosexual or homosexual, as long as they are in love and they are happy."
In Vietnam's capital Hanoi, more than 100 demonstrators held the country's first gay pride parade August 5 to raise awareness of the LGBT community inspired by an unexpected government proposal to recognize the same-sex couples.
Ever since the monarchy ended, Nepal has progressively taken steps to ensure basic rights for the gay community. A Supreme Court ruling in 2007 ensured equality and protection for the LGBTI community from possible harassment from law enforcement officers though homosexuality has been technically legalized since 1960s.
Though same-sex marriages have yet to be legalized, the first public gay wedding ceremony of Nepal was held in June 2011 when a lawyer and a college professor from Denver, Colorado, got married in Kathmandu in the Nepalese Hindu tradition.