Two Women Become Taiwan's First Military Officers to Wed Same-Sex Partners: 'You Are Not Alone'
Two women in Taiwan have made history after they became the island's first military officers to marry their same-sex partners.
Army Maj. Wang Yi and Lt. Chen Ying-hsuan broke down barriers for LGBTQ+ rights on Friday after tying the knot with their respective partners at a mass military wedding ceremony in Taiwan, according to The Associated Press and Reuters.
Wang and her partner Yumi Meng, and Chen Ying-hsuan and her partner Li Li-chen, were among 188 couples who wed that day, in what the defense ministry called an "open and progressive" move, Reuters reported.
"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,” Chen, 27, said of marrying Li, 26, according to the AP.
Wang, 36, who couldn't hold back tears after receiving her marriage certificate in Taoyuan added, per Reuters: "I am hoping to boost the visibility of homosexuals so that people understand we are also just part of everyday life."
Taiwan is currently the only place in Asia to have legalized same-sex marriage, according to the AP.
Since passing the legislation in May 2019, over 4,000 LGBTQ couples have tied the knot on the island, with 69% of them being lesbian couples, the outlet reported, citing recent government data.
Still, though, Taiwan has some restrictions in place, like only allowing gay residents to marry people from other countries that have also legalized sex-same marriage. Officials also remain divided on the matter of same-sex parenting, according to Reuters.
Despite those restrictions, the military has recently shown its support for LGBTQ couples, with the Commander of the Taiwan Army giving his blessing to both couples on Friday, as they donned rainbow wristbands and held rainbow flags, the outlet reported.
"We hope this is a good sign to show that the armed forces’ attitude towards the LGBT community is becoming more supportive than before in Taiwan," Victoria Hsu, the co-founder of Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, said, according to the AP.
"Our attitude is that everyone should be treated equally, and we congratulate each and every couple, and this shows that our military’s position is open-minded, progressive and with the times," Lt. Gen. Yang An added to reporters, per the outlet.
Wang's mother, Amy Chao, also echoed their sentiments about the historic wedding, which comes a day before Taipei's annual Pride parade on Saturday, according to the AP.
"I really feel that this is a huge breakthrough for the military because before gay people really had to go through a lot," Chao told the AP. "Perhaps for heterosexual couples, it’s just a paper, but it’s very important for gay couples. If you’re sick, or have to have a major surgery, if you don’t have this, then you are nothing, you can’t make a decision."
Now proudly married, Chen — who is a combat engineer lieutenant from the Army's Eighth Legion — said she hopes her milestone moment will help others like her.
"We hope our bravery could inspire more fellow soldiers who have concerns to also come out bravely," she said, according to Reuters. "You are actually not alone."
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