Two women in veils and voluminous white gowns kneel in front of a statue of the Buddha, exchanging vows and prayer beads to the languorous intonations of Buddhist chants.
No countries in Asia have legalized same-sex marriages so far, although there have been signs of progress in some -- most recently in Vietnam and Nepal.
Huang Mei-yu said she and her partner of seven years, Yu Ya-ting, decided to hold a Buddhist wedding to acknowledge their own faith, as well the predominant religion of the nation, according to the Taipei Times newspaper. They hoped the ceremony, which was performed by a renowned Buddhist master, would encourage Taiwanese society to accept same-sex marriage.
"Of course it helps (promote same-sex marriage), said Wu Hsiao-wen, Secretary of the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy, saying that the ceremony set a strong example for the Buddhist community. She added that its legitimacy was bolstered in the public's eyes by its blessing from Shih Chao-hwei, a highly-respected Buddhist social activist, who presided over the ceremony. Shih founded the Hong-Shih Buddhist College and the Research Centre for Applied Ethics at Hsuan Chuang University.
The Buddhist ceremony followed a mass same-sex wedding extravaganza last August, where 80 lesbian couples participated in a "Barbie and Barbie's wedding" in the capital city of Taipei, attracting over 1,000 guests and curious onlookers.