Written By: Joe Williams 20/7/15
The government’s plans to draft a “same-sex partnership” law would make Taiwan the first region in Asia to legalise gay marriage.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalisation of gay marriage last month, the authorities in Taiwan have announced that they have decided to draft a same-sex partnership law to mirror with the global trend and keep up with the public’s changing opinion regarding the subject.
Lo Ying-hsueh – head of Taiwan’s judicial body – said the government will put proposed bills regarding same-sex marriage online, allowing the public to vote on them freely.
The results of these votes would then serve as a guide to the government when they make changes to legislature, the Global Times reports.
Last year, an online poll revealed that 68% of the population supported same-sex marriage.
Taiwan’s LGBT community have been campaigning for same-sex unions for years – last week, thousands of supporters flooded the streets of Taipei in a bid to urge the government to change the country’s stance on gay marriage.
And although many welcome a law aimed at giving homosexuals legal protection, some activists have questioned why the government’s decision to draft a completely new law, rather than make amendments to the current marriage law.
“The fact that the government decided to set a new same-sex partnership law discriminates against homosexuals and it shows that homosexual couples are different from heterosexuals,” Chen Ling – a lesbian as well as gay rights activist – argued.
However, politicians from the country’s main parties have attempted to quash rumours that the change is simply an attempt to gain votes in the upcoming election and promised that the proposed changes will only strengthen the LGBT community’s place in Taiwanese society.
“Taiwan’s gay movement has been active for at least 10 years and many polls show that Taiwan society is mature enough to accept gay marriage,” said Hong Chih-kun, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s central executive committee.
DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said gay marriage reflects equality and upholds human rights, while Hung Hsiu-chu, Kuomintang’s head, also said she maintains an “open and optimistic” attitude toward homosexuality.
The marriage equality bill – which would legalise same-sex marriage and allow married gay couples to adopt children – was reviewed for the first time at the Judiciary Committee in December last year, after the DPP described current laws as discriminatory and unfair.
However, the discussion was put on hold, due to opposition from conservative Christian groups who have formed a network to organise rallies and petition signature collections to lobby against marriage equality.