A lesbian couple belonging to a rural community in Taiwan has became the first aboriginal couple there to adopt a child even though current national laws forbid marriage between same-sex couples and bar the women from claiming parenthood.
A ceremony to celebrate a same-sex couple adopting a child was recently held at a Rukai village in Wutai Township, Pintung County, according to news.asiaone.com. The Rukai are the seventh-largest of the 14 officially recognized indigenous groups in Taiwan.
“Unmarried, childless individuals officially adopting children is traditional in Vedai (Wutai) Rukai culture. However, such a ceremony is not known to have been held for a same-sex couple before,” the report said.
The ceremony was held in the Rukai village known in the local Ngudradrekay Vedai language as Labuwan. The lesbian couple known by their nicknames Pongo and Xiao Cui have been together for 30 years. The adopted girl, who goes by the nickname Xuan Xuan is the daughter of Xiao Cui's second eldest brother.
Pongo's sister reportedly said that the nature of the ceremony was for unmarried individuals and the fact that her sister is gay was not considered relevant, adding that the decision to hold the ceremony was recognized by the entire village.
Pongo, who is currently the village chief, performed various traditional rituals and customs of the ceremony and according to tradition presented various gifts to the family of Xuan Xuan's biological father. Both families signed an agreement that was mediated by village elders.
Xuan Xuan now inherits royal status conferred by village elders as a result of Pongo's title.
The elders reportedly said that although the agreement was not legally binding, they hoped that both families would live by their decisions and words.
Pongo pointed out the couple and their newly adopted child are a family only according to Rukai custom and not according to national regulations. Hence, Xuan Xuan's national identification will not include the names of Pongo and Xiao Cui as parents.
The couple said they are concerned that their child might not understand this but that they would do their best to explain the unique family relationship to the child slowly as she grows up.
Taiwan laws forbid and do not recognize marriage between same-sex couples. Hence the child is technically under the custody of only the living biological parents as laws do not prevent gay singles from adopting children.
Currently, the amendments to the Civil Code to allow people of the same sex to be married are under review by the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee. But there is stiff opposition to revising Article 972 of the Civil Code to change the term “man and woman” to “two parties” in the article concerning marriage and the term “father and mother” to “parents.”