A Buddhist cleric has wed two women in Taiwan, giving local gay advocates hope the country will be the first in Asia implement marriage equality.

Fish Huang and her partner You Ya-ting, both 30, received their blessings from Shih Chao-hui, a female Buddhist master, at a monastery in north Taiwan’s Taoyuan county, the Jakarta Globe reports.

The wedding is believed to be a first for Taiwanese Buddhism.

Chih Chun, a Buddhist nun who attended the ceremony, said the couple deserved the same respect as opposite-sex couples.

“They can choose freely to get married and we should respect them… it makes no difference if couples are heterosexual or homosexual, as long as they are in love and they are happy,” she told the Globe.

A bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Taiwan has been pending since 2003.

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