Taiwan plans to draft a same-sex partnership law to further protect the rights of homosexual couples, making Taiwan likely to become the first region in Asia to legalize gay marriage.
Following the US Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage in June, judicial authorities in Taiwan announced recently that they decided to draft a same-sex partnership law consistent with the global trend and changing public opinion. They said when polls show that the region’s population is ready, a gay marriage law will be drafted.
Lo Ying-hsueh, head of Taiwan’s judicial body, said the government will put related bills on an online voting platform with the result to serve as a reference for the legislature, the Taiwan-based United Daily News reported Sunday.
A poll conducted by judicial authorities in 2013 shows that more than 53 percent support same-sex marriage.
DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said gay marriage reflects equality and upholds human rights, while Hung Hsiu-chu, deputy KMT head, also said she maintains an “open and optimistic” attitude toward homosexuality.
Taiwan’s homosexuals have been demanding legalizing same-sex marriage for years. In October 2014, 50,000 people attended Asia’s largest gay pride festival in Taipei.
Although the forthcoming same-sex partnership law is aimed at giving homosexuals legal protection, many gay couples and some questioned why the government decided to draft a new law but not to amend the current marriage law.
“The fact that the government decided to set a new same-sex partnership law discriminates against homosexuals and it shows that homosexual couples are different from heterosexuals,” Chen Ling, a lesbian as well as gay rights activist, told the Global Times.
Chen and her partner, Lu Hsin-chieh, tried to get married in Taiwan last year but were rejected.
Chen said she hopes the government can include gay marriage in the current marriage law and set up a partnership law after including both homosexuals and heterosexuals.
Chen said she fears that a partnership law may not allow gay couples to adopt children, while Lu believes that the new law shows progress.
“Taiwan’s gay movement has been active for at least 10 years and many polls show that Taiwan society is mature enough to accept gay marriage,” Hong Chih-kun, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s central executive committee, told the Global Times.
Chiu Yi, former Kuomintang (KMT) legislator, however, said that that the announcement of the draft may be the KMT’s way of gaining support for next year’s general election. “Since the new law will not affect the current marriage law, it could protect gay couples’ rights which may help KMT win over votes from homosexuals without harming those who hold traditional beliefs.”