Taiwan Unveils Draft Same-Sex Marriage Legislation In Historic First For Asia


Taipei Pride Festival in Taiwan same-sex marriage
Photo: Rod Stringer

The Taiwanese government has unveiled a draft of its same-sex marriage legislation, in a historic first for Asia.

Newly-appointed premier Su Tseng-chang said in a statement on Facebook that the Taiwan cabinet’s proposed law would allow same-sex couples to get legally married.

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According to Su, the country’s definition of marriage in civil law will remain unchanged and a separate law will be enacted for same-sex marriage.

“We belong to the same country regardless of whether you are heterosexual or homosexual,” Su said.

“I sincerely hope that everyone could accept difference and treat each other in a friendly way.”

In 2017, Taiwan’s highest court ruled that denying marriage to same-sex couples was unconstitutional.

The ruling gave the parliament a deadline of two years to legislate same-sex marriage law or same-sex couples would automatically be granted civil marriages without the parliament’s approval.

The court-issued deadline is now only two months away.

Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka told Reuters that the draft bill will be discussed in this week’s cabinet meeting before sending it to the parliament for review on the same day.

Parliament will decide on whether or not to pass the marriage equality law by late May this year, but the issue continues to divide the sovereign island.

In a referendum in November last year, over 70% of Taiwanese voters rejected legalising marriage equality through changes to the Civil Code.

But Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang later clarified that rulings issued by the the country’s top court cannot be overturned by referendums.

The legislation was welcomed by pro-equality group EqualLove.TW, who thanked the country’s Executive Yuan in a statement.

“We can imagine the tremendous pressure facing the Executive Yuan from the organisations that oppose same-sex marriage,” the group said, according to Taiwan News.

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“The cabinet avoided the discriminatory ‘Same-sex Partnership Act’ and created a draft whose name can reflect the spirit of the [case] made by the country’s Grand Justices [in the May 2017 ruling].”

Earlier this week, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen took to Facebook to remind its citizens that while they may have opposing views on marriage equality, everyone understands the value of protecting each others’ rights.

“The focus of the current stage is on what legal form to guarantee,” President Tsai wrote.

“I believe that the executive council will treat the interpretation of the judge and the results of the referendum with wisdom.”