In 2017, Taiwan’s courts set a ruling that same-sex couples have the same constitutional right to marry as opposite-sex couples, and set in motion a path for Taiwan to become the first government in Asia to pass marriage equality legislation. The courts gave the Taiwanese government two years to draft and pass same-sex marriage legislation.
During the past two years, the Taiwanese government entertained three different pieces of legislation that could fulfill the constitutional obligation, and ended up passing the most liberal of the three. The legislation created a new law explicitly legalizing same-sex marriage, and does not use alternative language such as “union” or “family relationships”.
Despite a referendum in November, led by Christian groups, that demonstrated a citizen’s vote would not support marriage equality, the parliament of Taiwan voted to pass this legislation 66 to 27. Taiwan is now one of 28 countries worldwide with legalized same-sex marriage.
The legislation is seen by many advocates as imperfect progress, partially due to its adoption restrictions for same-sex couples but Siobhán O’Grady of The Washington Post reports, “Despite its imperfections in the eyes of activists, many hope the law will inch the rest of Asia toward also legalizing same-sex marriage…In Thailand, draft legislation would allow same-sex couples to be civil partners.”
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director celebrated by saying, “What a tremendous victory for LGBT rights! Taiwan’s action today should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people.”
Thousands of LGBTQ+ people and supporters awaited the parliament’s vote on Friday in Tapei, Taiwan’s capital, and rejoiced when the legislation passed. The first same-sex marriages in Taiwan will begin taking place on May 24th!
What other major progress has been made in the past year of the LGBTQ civil rights movement? What legislation around LGBTQ rights exist in your area?