Hopes are high for Taiwan’s same-sex marriage legislation, as a bill heads towards a crucial vote in Parliament.
The country is one of the most progressive in Asia on LGBT rights, providing some LGBT rights protections and allowing some limited recognition of same-sex relationships.
Lawmakers in the country are hoping to push further on equality issues – with politicians from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last month filing a bill that would legalise same-sex weddings.
The bill would change the definition of marriage to specify it is between two people, rather than between a “man and woman”.
As the legislation heads towards Parliament, hopes are high that it could pass – making Taiwan the first country in Asia to permit same-sex couples to marry. The country’s President, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, previously expressed support for equal marriage.
Yu Mei-nu, a DPP lawmaker sponsoring the bill, told AP “It’s a big step forward for the history of human rights.
“If Taiwan can get this passed… it will give other Asian countries a model.”
The politician said previously: “While many local governments accept household registrations from same-sex couples, it is just an executive measure that does not give them full legal rights.
“Many people have been asking why no amendment has been submitted and the reason is that details are important, and we have been putting a lot of thought into what should be covered.
“This time we want an overall rule added: Gays and heterosexuals will have the right to equally enjoy the benefits of marriage, including parental authority over children and freedom from discrimination in adoption cases.”
“There is also a need for a partnership law, but it should apply equally to heterosexuals and gay people.”
There is some opposition to the legislation, however, primarily from Western-inspired fundamentalist church groups, who have some influence in the region.
The anti-LGBT Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan has vowed to protest the change.
The group’s head Chang Shou-yi fumed: “What gay activists want is for their lifestyle to be affirmed by society, but why do they need to change the traditional institution of marriage, which goes back thousands of years?”