NICOLE ALAVERDIAN WRITES – A roar of happiness and tears erupted around Taiwan – and in many communities around the world – as the Taiwanese parliament approved same-sex marriage. This is a historic win as Taiwan becomes the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage – proving to be more socially progressive than others in the region. This big step towards equality was confirmed by the President of Taiwan herself, Tsai Ing-wen, in a tweet celebrating this progressive move.
Anxious demonstrators happily endured wet weather as they waited for the news from lawmakers about their decision to legalize such coupling. Lawmakers of the majority Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), under President Tsai, backed the groundbreaking move, which passed 66 to 27. This momentous bill offers same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, and is expected to take effect on May 24th, after President Tsai signs it into the law.
This vote came two years after Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional the island’s existing law (marriage was between a man and a woman, period). However, the panel of judges gave the parliament two years to amend or enact a new law. Up until today, a week behind the deadline, lawmakers finally passed the bill making the notion of same-sex marriage a reality.
This comes as a pleasant shock due to the fact that not only is this the first in Asia to legalize gay marriage, but also the fact that many Taiwanese citizens vehemently opposed same-sex marriage, with 67% voting to reject it in a controversial referendum last November. In recent months leading up to this historic bill, many conservative groups have campaigned against same-sex marriage reform.
Evidently, this did not stop the bill from passing, signifying Taiwan’s commitment to equality for the LGBTQ+ community. This historic vote sets Taiwan apart from other parts in Asia where LGBTQ+ rights have repressed. For example, China and Brunei are just a couple of Asian countries we have seen take strict stances against the LGBTQ+ community. Just a month ago, Brunei announced that it would introduce death by stoning for those who were arrested and convicted of gay sex, causing a wave of opposition around the world. So much so, the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, has since said the death penalty would not be imposed. However, he did not repeal the law.
Attacks against the LGBTQ+ community have been forthright and ever-progressing, but Taiwan’s acts have shown that, while a momentous movement, the world still has a lot of catching up to do before we can all celebrate the equality and rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The fight is not over- but for now let’s celebrate Taiwan for its historic decision and look at other countries who are severely lagging in granting the basic right to love as the individual citizen chooses.