Taiwan could be first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage

Not a single country in Asia has legalized same-sex marriage yet. Marriage equality could win big if Taiwan becomes the first Asian country to do so, with president Tsai Ing-wen in support of LGBTQ rights. Her Democratic Progressive Party is also favorable toward same-sex marriage. Four bills are currently moving through the Legislative Yuan judiciary committee, and if they move to a vote they’d need support from 57 of the 113 lawmakers. So far, 56 people legislators have backed the bills.

President Ing-wen has only been in office since May, and the political climate is more favorable now than it has been in previous years. Kaohsiung was the first city to register same-sex couples and Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, was next up. Kaohsiung led the way toward progress again last week by being the first to issue same-sex partnership cards, which allowed hospitals to include partners in medical decisions and made it easier for them to contact loved ones in case of emergencies.

If passed, the four bills in the judiciary committee would legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt. Support for LGBTQ rights is strong in the country, with more than 80,000 people showing up in Taipei last month for its 14th LGBT Pride Parade. But with any type of progress comes opposition.

Thousands of people march in Taipei for the Lesbian, Gay,
CREDIT: Pacific Press/Getty

The same bill failed in 2013, but even legislators who supported the bill then have withdrawn their support, collapsing from the pressure of groups opposed to same-sex marriage. Thousands of people dressed in white protested the bill on Thursday outside the judiciary committee.

Opposition is to be expected, but the acceptance of same-sex marriage has increased and is being led by young people. There’s gay-friendly sex education in Taiwan’s public schools, gay clubs aren’t targeted by police as they once were, and outspoken pop singers publicly show support. Pop singer A-Mei told The New York Times, “In our tribe, we don’t see love as complicated. So for me, LGBT love and the right to marry are as natural as breathing. And nobody should be able to deprive others of the right to breathe.”

It may seem like Asia (and other continents around the world) are behind, but now is a good time to remember that same-sex marriage was only legalized here, in all 50 states, last June. Hopefully the same-sex bills passes in Taiwan and other Asian countries will follow suit.

And once again, the youth lead the way to tolerance. One day they will save the world.