Taiwan Set to Become First Asian Nation to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage
Taiwan is poised to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Lawmakers from the country’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party are working on three marriage equality bills at the moment, one of which is expected to pass within the next few months.
Relative to the rest of Asia, Taiwan is progressive in its social attitudes. Polls suggest most citizens, especially young people, support same-sex marriage, and President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female leader, is a marriage equality advocate as well. “Every person should be able to look for love freely, and freely seek their own happiness,” she said at the gay pride parade in Taipei, the largest in Asia, last year. This year’s parade drew thousands of people.
Taiwan has a vibrant LGBT community. Unlike some other Asian nations, same-sex intercourse is legal in Taiwan, as is sexual reassignment surgery. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned in workplaces and schools. Taipei has a “gay village,” with gay bars and shops. McDonald’s aired a commercial in Taiwan in which a son tells his father he is gay (over a McCafe coffee). The video came out on YouTube in March, and has garnered over two million views and thousands of likes.
If Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage over the next few months, it will become the first Asian nation to do so (including the Middle East), and will join a list of over 20 countries that have done the same. Taiwanese citizens seem to support marriage equality, including 80 percent of people ages 20 to 29, according to one recent study.
A 2013 poll found that 53 percent of Taiwan supports gay marriage, with Catholics and Protestants as the main opposition, though both groups combined only account for six percent of the entire population. LGBT people still struggle with coming out to their parents and grandparents, as homosexuality is still a taboo among older generations.
Friction exists among lawmakers as well. Some members of the main opposition Nationalist Party’s Central Standing Committee oppose same-sex marriage. In 2013, they helped halt a bill that would have legalized same sex marriage. But as the effort is gaining support among the public and the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s lawmaking body), same-sex marriages will likely be a reality in Taiwan soon enough.
President Tsai would certainly like to lead her country in that direction. “In the face of love, everyone is equal,” she said.