Wedding Bells

Rub The Belly For Luck At Taiwan’s First Same-Sex Buddhist Wedding

A 30-year-old social worker in Taiwan wanted to be an inspiration for other gay Buddhists in Taiwan. So she married her partner in the nation’s first Buddhist gay wedding.

“We are not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians,” Fish Huang said, hoping to further push the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan.

Huang was inspired by a movie that emotionally struck her. In it, two lesbians faced a doomed relationship when one died, leaving the other heartbroken because she lacked spousal benefits. Sounds a wee bit propaganda-ish but, of course, we support the message.

Even though Taiwan’s first public gay wedding took place in 1996, the country still does not legally recognize same-sex marriage. Huang’s is the first performed in the Buddhist faith.

From the Taipei Times:

While planning for her wedding, Huang found out, to her surprise, that some of her Buddhist friends were hesitant about attending the ceremony.

“They are not sure if it would break their vows and were very anxious,” Huang said.

She messaged a Buddhist master on Facebook, asking her if she could find grounds in Buddhism for condemning the practice of homosexuality.

To Huang’s surprise, the master quickly replied that Buddhism shows no bias toward homosexuality. In a demonstration of support, the master said she was willing to host the ceremony for the couple.

“It is meaningful to us that our wedding can give hope to other homosexuals and help heterosexuals understand how Buddhism views sexuality,” Huang said.

The Buddhist master Shih Chao-hwei, who is also a professor at Hsuan Chuang University, said Buddhist teachings do not prohibit homosexual behavior.

Considering how much fire and brimstone Western religions spew about homosexuality, Buddhism’s acceptance is something worth meditating on.

Photo: Francis Chung

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  • Jon

    You don’t rub the Buddha’s belly for good luck, that’s Budai, a Chinese diety in Taoism. A little sensitivity through research would be appreciated. This is an article about religion, after all.

  • Jim

    Actually, you don’t rub the belly of buddha, the image usually called buddha, or fat buddha, is actually a monk.

  • Charlie

    Very happy to hear they found acceptance. There are a few religions that are very forward-thinking about sexuality.

  • darkorient

    Congratulations to Huang and partner, hoping for a better future for LGBT in Asia and the world.

    We know that the writer tried to be clever with the title, but there’s no such superstition in Buddhism. Please be more sensitive to this kind of issue. Remember that respect begets respect.

  • Andrew Rahn

    Wow, rub the belly? way to be offensive toward people who support gay rights Queerty.

  • Triple S

    Jesus people, just calm the fuck down, OK? Why do so many people on this site have to get in such an uproar about something that doesn’t matter in the slightest?

    On a more positive note, I find Buddhism to be one of the best things there are in the faith department.
    It’s not so much a religion as it is a philosophy, lacking a singular god and all. Buddha was simply a monk who inspired the actions and beliefs that Buddhists today demonstrate.

    See? How bloody hard was it just to say that rather than complain about how a few words that may not have been the most immaculately correct in their usage? Be positive people!

  • InscrutableTed

    @Triple S: My family are Buddhists, and I get really pissed off when people say Buddhism is “not so much a religion as a philosophy”.

    It’s a religion. Things don’t stop being religions just because they differ a little from Christianity. If you wanted to be respectful of Buddhism, you wouldn’t trivialize it in a Eurocentric way.

    (I also get pissed off when people think they’re supposed to rub Buddha’s belly, because that’s a completely different guy, and Buddha isn’t even fat and barely has a belly. But other people have already pointed that out.)

  • Chris

    @Triple S: “Jesus people, just calm the fuck down, OK? Why do so many people on this site have to get in such an uproar about something that doesn’t matter in the slightest?”

    It is minor, but it is a sign of people regarding other religions as not mattering in the slightest.

    But good news!

  • zhangfa

    Although I am also very glad to hear that over 300 monastics helped to officiate a same-sex wedding in Taiwan, I would like to take this opportunity – Americans are interested in the Taiwanese LGBT movement! – to point out several cultural differences that (unfortunately) limit the importance of this event in Taiwan.

    First of all, even after I spent a month living at a Buddhist monastery here in Taiwan, I don’t personally know anyone who has gotten a Buddhist wedding. The monastics I met don’t get married, and the laypeople don’t turn to the monastery the same way that Americans turn to the Church to oversee marriages. Buddhism infuses the cultural life of all Taiwanese people, but few people are affiliated with Buddhist (or any other religious) institutions. Religious ideas are really not that significant to Taiwanese people; Confucianism (not a religion) remains the core of our epistemology.

    Americans often assume that the debate regarding same-sex marriage is intrinsically tied to religion. This is not exactly the case in Taiwan. Whereas the Bible arguably condemns homosexuality as a sin, no Buddhist texts mention homosexuality either in a positive or negative light. Marriage is not so much a religious ceremony as it is family business.

    One retired French Professor at the National Taiwan University once told me that he found Taipei to be more gay-friendly than Paris in the 1970s. How is that possible? In this culture, the pressures against homosexuality do not come from religious or legal institutions to the same degree that we see in the States. Instead, filial piety remains a priority, and pressure from one’s family to fulfill the traditional duty of getting married and having a biological son forms the basis of LGBT individuals’ concerns. The retired French Professor did not have any family in Taiwan, and consequently did not feel the bulk of the pressure that local Taiwanese gays would face for being gay.

    I had the opportunity to speak with Master Shih Chao-hui – the leading venerable who officiated last week’s same sex wedding – and she said to me that since wedding on August 11, she has received no opposition from other monastics. Yes, we should celebrate this event, but a Buddhist same-sex wedding does not cut against the grain to the extent that many American readers (and writers) assume it is.

    The fight in religious settings is not unimportant in Taiwan, but only to the extent that it brings us closer to fulfilling Taiwanese LGBT individuals’ priority concern: the integration into fulfilling Confucian family duties, duties that do not necessarily rest upon religious or legal recognitions.

    Please follow my Tumblr for more on LGBT Taiwan:

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