Will Taiwan Be the First in Asia to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage?
Civil rights, women’s rights, human rights and now more than ever before, marriage rights are being fought for throughout the world. The pursuit for equality is emerging and citizens are protesting, holding peaceful marches and waving rainbow flags against oppression. People are defending their rights to love, love openly, love freely, and love anyone of any sex they desire. They are shifting traditional, conservative perceptions of same-sex marriage and pressuring policymakers to lift legal restrictions on love.
In Taiwan, marriage rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage is more favored now than ever before. The Taiwanese community is putting an increasing amount of pressure on political legislation to pass the bill on same-sex marriage that was immediately blocked after it was introduced in 2005 .
In Taipei Taiwan, Su Shuan and her partner Lana Yu have been raising their 5-month-old twins together, yet only one of them is the legal parent. In the event of the legal parent Yu’s death the living partner is given no authority over the twins, and in accordance with the government’s policy, Lana who’s the legally unrecognized parent, is considered as irrelevant as a stranger would be in her children's life. A policy denying same-sex marriage respectively denies these two women equal rights to co-parent their children.
In an interview with the Associated Press in Taiwan, Su says "This [marriage inequality] is an issue that society as a whole must tackle together." She added, "I hope that in the process, society will not be polarised and divided, and that we can all come together in a rational and understanding approach."
The dream of marriage equality is becoming a reality. Throughout Taiwan, the majority of citizens have accepted or are working towards the acceptance of the LGBTQ community at large. The eradication of traditional beliefs stating that marriage is strictly a contract between man and wife is on the rise. The Taiwanese political landscape is favourable for this change in gay marriage policy, more so than it has ever been before.
Su states that “We go to the market with our kids and people say ‘how cute,'” and “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.”
The positive experiences which Su has had as an openly gay parent indicates the almost normalized idea of same-sex marriage throughout the Taiwanese community, countering the minority who still define marriage as a strictly heterosexual right. A public figure in this minority opposed being Chairman of the Faith and Hope League political party who insists that same-sex marriage would place a "burden" on Taiwan's welfare. He then assumes, without factual support that the death of a partner in a same-sex marriage will “burden” the country by leaving the survivor dependent on the government for financial support to raise their child. Yet, when analyzing the same-sex marriage legalization in the 20 countries around the world such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and most of the U.S, you will see that in no way have their governments been financially affected after their policy changes.
Recent polls regarding support of same-sex marriage indicate that over 80 percent of Taiwanese between 20 and 29 support the legalization. A whopping 80 percent of Taiwan’s most significant generation who say that tradition, culture and policy should not govern people’s rights to love and love whomever they desire.
It’s obvious in these polls that same-sex marriage rights are gaining an increasing amount of support throughout Asia, indicating that a change in policy is coming. The most recent president elect Tsai Ing-wen has similarly added to this hope for equality throughout her campaign where she publicly announced her support of same-sex marriage.
On October 31, 2015, Tsai stated in a Facebook video that "In the face of love, everyone is equal." In support of the estimated 80,000 people attending Asia's largest LGBTQ march on the day of her post, Tsai quickly became a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ community and anyone who has suffered because of Taiwan’s policies on same-sex marriage.
Ty Conn, the Director of HRC Global, was amongst the marchers who attended, stating "As all of us know, visibility and coming out are the key to changing hearts and minds. Today you are all changing hearts and minds across Taiwan and Asia. We are proud to join you in your struggle for equal human rights."
He, along with the 80,00 LGBTQ supporters, marched to advocate for equality, despite a small yet vociferous group of Christian critics from the Buddhist and Taoist dominant country.
At the time, Tsai was not yet the president, but many have predicted that her presidency was the only hope for the advancement of Parliament’s stalled bill for same-sex marriage. upon her victory this January, the rights for marriage equality became a thing of the present, making Taiwan potentially the first Asian state to legalize same-sex marriage.
According to a Taiwan legislator Yu, the public support for same-sex marriage is a rising phenomenon, the majority continues to come "from the younger generation" who are influential actors in the future of the country and thus the future for equality. Taiwan’s policies towards marriage equality are slowly changing, cities are beginning to socially accept the registration of same-sex partners in civil households and the health codes, such as the Medical Care Act, have evolved to allow same-sex couples to make medical decisions for their partners, a privilege of marriage that only heterosexual couples could enjoy..
The movement towards marriage equality and the right to love whomever you desire is a giant accomplishment for Taiwan's political system and LGBTQ community. Hopefully, with the help of the president elect Tsai, the Parliament’s bill will pass and finally allow couples such as Su and her partner the legal recognition under martial law as co-parents of their beautiful twins.
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AP photo/chiang Ying-ying
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