A Rukai village in Wutai Township, Pintung County recently held a ceremony to celebrate a same-sex couple ‘adopting’ a child.
The ceremony was held in the Rukai village known in the local Ngudradrekay Vedai language as Labuwan for a lesbian couple known by their nicknames Pongo and Xiao Cui. The couple have reportedly been together for thirty years.
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 couple reportedly took in the daughter of Xiao Cui’s second eldest brother around 10 years ago. The girl, who goes by the nickname Xuan Xuan, has been referring to Pongo as her father and Xiao Cui her mother since that time and the villagers have reportedly always viewed the trio as a regular family.
Pongo’s sister, who formerly served as the village chief, stated that the decision to hold the ceremony was recognised by the entire village. Pongo’s sister went on to say that as the nature of the ceremony was for unmarried individuals and the fact that her sister is gay was not considered relevant.
Pongo, who is currently the village chief, performed the various traditional rituals and customs of the ceremony. According to tradition, Pongo presented various gifts to the family of Xuan Xuan’s biological father. Xuan Xuan was also granted royal status by village elders as a result of Pongo’s title.
Both families signed an agreement that was mediated by village elders. The elders stated that although the agreement is not legally binding, they hope that both families will live by their decisions and words.
During an interview, Pongo stated that in her opinion, setting a good example as a family is the best way to prove rumours and criticism wrong. However, as they are a family only according to Rukai custom and not according to national regulations, Xuan Xuan’s national identification will not include the names of Pongo and Xiao Cui, which her guardians have said is a concern as the girl might not understand.
Pongo’s family has, however, stated that they will do their best to explain the unique family dynamic to the child slowly as she grows older.