Taiwan to pass law to legalise same-sex marriage

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Same-sex marriage Taiwan

Taiwan may become the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage.

By: Roshni Kapur

Taiwan has recently announced that bills to legalise same-sex marriages are moving through its parliamentary system. Legislators in Taiwan are working on three bills where one of the bills may be passed as a law in early 2017.

Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, the first female head of state who took office in May, said that she is in support of same-sex marriage. Her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is largely in favour of same-sex marriages.

Yu Mei-nu, an MP from DPP said the move may be a progressive step forward for marriage equality and human rights in Asia.

“If Taiwan can get this passed…it will give other Asian countries a model,” she was quoted in an online article on ABC.

Taiwan would be the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage if the bill gets passed. It will join its Western counterparts such as the US, Canada and Ireland that have legalised same-sex marriages in the last 15 years,  according to the Washington, D.C.-based LGBT rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

“It’s a big step forward for the history of human rights,” Yu Mei-nu, a legislator from the DPP who is advocating for one of the bills was quoted in an online article on The Sydney Morning herald.

“If Taiwan can get this passed … it will give other Asian countries a model.”

Some Taiwanese cities such as Kaohsiung, are already symbolically recognising same-sex marriages. Kaohsiung took an unprecedented move in May by registering same-sex couples. The capital, Taipei, made a similar move shortly after.  

In November, Kaohsiung took another step forward by handing out same-sex “partnership cards” to homosexual couples. The deputy director of the Kaohsiung civil affairs bureau, Chen Shu-fang said the distribution of cards is intended to help couples communicate with their partners during emergencies. The municipal government of Taipei has recently said that a similar move will be taken.

Taiwan, reputed for its relative acceptance of homosexuals, has considered legalising same-sex marriages in retrospect.  A same-sex marriage bill was handed by Hsiao Bi-khim, a lawmaker from the DPP in 2005. However the bill failed to pass through as a law. In 2013, another bill managed to pave its way to the committee review stage but was not accepted as a law either.

According to Hsiao the situation is different now. “We have a much better chance this time around,” she was quoted in an online article on The New York Times. .  

Civil society groups have argued that there is an increasing support for same-sex marriages among the youth.

According to the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy group, approximately 80% of youth between the ages of 20 and 29 are in favour of same-sex marriage. Another survey commissioned by Taiwan’s United Daily News in 2012 revealed that while 55% of the population is in favour of same-sex marriage, 37% oppose it.