Taiwan To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Taiwanese lawmakers are in the process of working on three separate bills that would support marriage equality. One bill is already listed for review and may be passed within months. Same-sex marriages are also supported by President Tsai-Ing-wen, who is Taiwan’s first female leader. Statistics show that around 80 percent of Taiwanese who are between the ages of 20 and 29 support same-sex marriages. Four years ago, a survey taken by Taiwan’s United Daily News determined that 55 percent of the public supported same-sex marriages, while 37 percent were opposed, as the Associated Press shares.

These statistics are a reflection of the democratic society and the prominence of inclusive attitudes, as well as the fact that many of the 23 million citizens of the nation practice Buddhism, which is a religion that does not take a strong position on sexual orientation.

The acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships began to be evidently accepted in the 90s, that was complemented by the strong feminist movement in Taiwan. Jens Damm, associate Professor in the Graduate Institute of Taiwan, shares these details and states that “The elite became in favor of a kind of gender equality.”

There has still, however, been challenges to overcome, such as the traditional perceptions and judgments of those who practice them, Involving the pressures to marry and have children. The nation is lacking in celebrity gay and lesbian individuals to be examples for the population.

Should the bills pass, Taiwan would join Canada, Ireland, Colombia, and the United States, in addition to 16 other nations that have legalized same-sex marriage in the past 15 years. It would be a prominent act in Asian and Middle Eastern countries, seeing as 20 of these have continued to ban same-sex intercourse and marriages.

“It’s a big step forward for the history of human rights,” said Yu Mei-nu, a ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker who is sponsoring the same-sex marriage bill now in line for parliamentary debate.

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

The office of the Justice Ministry in Taiwan has not specifically backed the bills, yet has vowed on its website to take on an “attitude of openness” toward same-sex marriage. The president shared this past October that she supports gay and lesbian marriage.

There have been annual events organized by gay and lesbian individuals in Taiwan, including a Gay Pride march in Taipei last month that drew thousands. There has been a group formed of more than 100 participants who are pushing for gay marriage.

Domestic gays and lesbians have also formed an effective lobby in recent years. An annual Gay Pride march in Taipei last month drew tens of thousands of people, many pushing for gay marriage. About 100 people have separately formed a group pushing for the cause.

Log Chen shares how she wishes to be able to make plans with her partner. “In case something happens to my partner, I will not be left with nothing,” Chen, 32, said.

Benefits of asset sharing and health care are certainly factors that are motivating the push for same-sex marriage to be legalized, yet so is the freedom to love freely and be respected in their relationship by society. Jay Lin, the founder and director of the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival, speaks about the freedom of committing to one another. “There are lots of people who have been loving and committed to each other for decades and they’d like to put a ring around their finger,” said the father of 4-month-old twin boys, who said he would consider marrying his partner.

There are critics who are making their opinions known and a minority of organizations, such as churches and conservative politicians who are in opposition.

Chairman of the Faith And Hope League political party states that legalizing same-sex marriage would “burden” Taiwan’s welfare system and present challenges for children. He adds that the death of a partner in a same-sex marriage may leave the survivor dependent on government services in old age, as many would not have children to support them as they age.

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However, Su, a software engineer who hopes to marry her partner and raise children, opposes this view.

“We go to the market with our kids and people say ‘how cute,'” she said. “When they find there are two mamas, they feel intrigued. Maybe they have seen news about this type of family but don’t have friends near them who are doing it.”

[Feature Image by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images]