1,200 gather in Taipei for gay marriage 'wedding banquet'

1,200 gather in Taipei for gay marriage 'wedding banquet'

TAIPEI -- More than 1,200 Taiwanese people joined a mock "wedding banquet" on Saturday aiming to drum up support for a same-sex marriage bill due to be sent to parliament soon, organizers said.

Participants sat around tables decorated with red cloths printed with the Chinese character for "wedding," as they had dinner and watched a video recording of local celebrities showing support as well as live performances in a makeshift banquet venue in a square outside the presidential office in Taipei.

"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.

The event was aimed at building momentum for a bill on legalizing same-sex marriage and civil partnership drafted by the advocacy group Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, set to be submitted to parliament when its next session begins in mid-September, 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," said Severia Lu, a spokeswoman for the alliance.

"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."

Gay and lesbian groups in Taiwan, one of Asia's more liberal societies, have been urging the government for years to make same-sex unions legal.

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