Asia Minute: Taiwan’s Move on Same Sex Marriage

Feb 25, 2019

Taiwan Pride 2016
Credit KOKUYO / Wikimedia Commons

Taiwan has taken another step toward becoming the first government in Asia to recognize same sex marriage. But the proposal still faces opposition, and some complications.

Taiwan is home to East Asia’s largest gay pride parade — organizers say about 137,000 people turned out for last year’s.

In May 2017, Taiwan’s high court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex couples from marrying. The court gave lawmakers two years to come up with a measure to formally legalize the practice. But the process of getting there has not been a simple one.

Last fall, a national referendum to approve same-sex marriage failed to win the support of a majority of voters. A separate ballot question did win approval — defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

President Tsai Ing Wen has endorsed same sex marriage, but critics have complained she hasn’t pushed the issue hard with legislators — especially following the results of the referendum.

She faces a re-election campaign next year.

Last week, Taiwan’s cabinet proposed a draft law that would give same-sex couples the same legal status and protections as heterosexuals, but would allow the civil law definition of marriage to remain as a relationship between a man and a woman.

The director of Amnesty International Taiwan called the proposal “a huge step forward for marriage equality in Taiwan” — although noting “there are some areas where this separate law falls short of genuine marriage equality.”