Taiwan: Gay activists take part in mass ‘wedding banquet’ for same-sex unions

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

More than 1,200 activists in Taiwan took part in a mock “wedding banquet” on Saturday in a bid to press for the legalisation of same-sex unions in the country.

Following the recently upheld same-sex marriage of a transgender couple last month, participants gathered in front of the presidential office in Taipei to rally support for the “Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights,” which is set to be submitted to parliament when its next session begins in mid-September.

The rally took the form of a “bando”, which is a traditional banquet where guests sit in a cluster of round tables, and celebrate with music and cheering.

Bandos are held to celebrate events like weddings, religious festivals, and elections.

The activists sat around tables decorated with red cloths, where they had dinner and watched a video recording of local celebrities showing support as well as live performances from pop divas including Sandee Chan and Chang Hui-mei.

“This looks likes a traditional wedding scene and even if it’s not real, I think a picture is worth a thousand words and I hope we will get more public attention and support for same-sex marriages,” said Richard Chen, a 22-year-old student from Taipei.

Severia Lu, a spokeswoman for the alliance, said: “We organised the event in the form of a wedding banquet in the hope that everyone regardless of his or her sexual orientation can have equal rights to get married and have families.

“We are optimistic about the bill as public support in Taiwan is growing while there is also a global trend to recognise same-sex marriages after France, Britain and New Zealand enacted such laws.”

Another participant, 24-year-old Ruby Tsai, said: “I think there is still a difficult road ahead of us because there is not enough public consensus on the issue of same-sex marriages. I think we have to wait for one or two years for the bill to be passed.”

Earlier this month, Taiwan’s Interior Ministry announced that the marriage status of Abbygail Wu, 27, and her 29-year-old partner Jiyi Wu should remain legal.

LGBT activist groups called the move a “benchmark” ruling for more diverse forms of marriage going forward.

In March, a gay rights activist in Taiwan promised to appeal against the country’s ban on equal marriage, after being turned down while attempting to register to marry his partner.

In December last year, Nelson Chen and Kao Chih-wei also filed a lawsuit against the Taipei city government for rejecting their attempt to register their marriage.

Mr Chen said he had “lost his faith in the judiciary” but added that death threats to him and his parents via Facebook had been among factors prompting him to abandon the appeal.