Date: May 22, 2019
By: Bonnie Chiu
On May 17, the Taiwanese parliament passed a bill that would allow same-sex couples to apply for marriage registration. This followed the decision by the Constitutional Court two years ago that same-sex couples should have the constitutional right to marry.
This has not been a smooth journey, as the Taiwanese electorate voted in referendums last year not to implement teaching about LGBT issues, and to restrict marriage under the Civil Code to heterosexual couples. On the latter, in fact 72% of the electorate voted to restrict marriage to one man and woman.
So, what led to Taiwan becoming the first in Asia to take this step? The government’s supportive attitudes are crucial. After the referendum in 2018, the government responded to the results by stating that the court’s original ruling would be implemented regardless.
A Taiwanese LGBT rights promoter, Leslie Li, said that the LGBT movement has gained more traction since the 2000s, after some unfortunate incidents. In 2000, the tragic death of 14-year-old Ye Yong Zhi, who has been bullied due to his sexuality, had sparked widespread outcry and led to recognition of LGBT issues. Yet, it still took close to two decades of sustained activism to achieve a change in public opinion and government’s stance. She added that Taiwan’s democratic political system has led to a vibrant civil society and a culture of the public speaking out on social issues. [FULL STORY]