Filipino-Australian couple Ann and Rica travelled to the island of Boracay in the conservative country of the Philippines to hold their wedding ceremony.
While same-sex marriage is illegal in both the Philippines and Australia, Ann and Rica are legally recognised by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Australia as being in a de facto relationship.
Members of the LGBT community in the Philippines face stigma, and the loving couple find it easier to live in Australia as a same-sex couple than in their home country.
However, once they started liaising the suppliers gave them nothing but “unwavering support, encouragement and love.”
They stumbled upon the Metropolitan Community Church that was based in Quezon City who were open to any religious denomination and focused on services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups. At home in Sydney, Ann and Rica are part of the Catholic community and regularly attend church.
“Our faith is part of our foundation in love. God is our anchor always bringing us back closer.”
Since the proposal in 2010, the couple have grown emotionally and spiritually stronger, Rica told BuzzFeed.
Despite the stigma surrounding same-sex relationships in the Philippines, Rica shared that her family are very open minded and coming out was easy for her because her grandmother and aunt are also lesbians. For Ann however, she only revealed to her family that she was in a lesbian relationship when she was ready to sponsor Rica to live in Australia. “She had a lot of fear and anxiety about it, but in the end her family gave her 100% support,” Rica told BuzzFeed.
“It’s a stepping stone towards same-sex marriage,” said Rica. “It starts with recognising two individuals regardless of gender engaged in an exclusive relationship.”