TAIWAN is shaping up to become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage as legislators are currently working on three bills that supported marriage equality.
According to the Associated Press, one of the bills on the matter is already listed for review and could be passed within months. The law amendment is prominently endorsed by President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female head of state.
On Wednesday, two amendments were tabled at Taiwan’s Legislature which, apart from offering same-sex couples the right to get married, allowed gay couples to adopt children.
Before becoming law, the draft will still need to be discussed in the Legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee and then pass the second and third readings, Gay Star News reported.
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Citing local university studies Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy group, Tseng Yen-jung, said about 80 percent of Taiwanese between ages 20 and 29 support same-sex marriage
Taiwan’s United Daily News pointed out that 55 percent of the public supported same-sex marriage, with 37 percent opposed in a survey carried out four years ago.
The move to accept same-sex marriage, according to the AP, is seen as a reflection of Taiwan’s ready acceptance of multi-party democracy and other inclusive attitudes. It also reflected the fact that Taiwan’s 23 million people largely follow Buddhism and traditional Chinese religions that take no strong positions on sexual orientation or gay marriage.
Jens Damm, associate Professor in the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Studies at Chang Jung University in Taiwan, said the Taiwanese public had begun to widely accept Gay and lesbian relationships since the 1990s. She said the acceptance was aided by an already well-established feminist movement.
“The elite became in favor of a kind of gender equality,” Damm said.
Still, same-sex marriage still had to overcome traditional perceptions of gender roles and the strong pressure on children to marry and have kids. The self-ruled island also lacks many openly gay and lesbian celebrities to lead the way; the writer and television talk show host Kevin Tsai is among the few exceptions.
Washington, D.C.-based LGBT rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign noted Taiwan would join Canada, Colombia, Ireland, the United States and 16 other countries that have legalized same-sex marriage over the past 15 years.
However, Taiwan stands to become a notable exception among Asian and Middle Eastern countries, of which at least 20 of which continue to ban same-sex intercourse, the AP reported.
“It’s a big step forward for the history of human rights,” said Yu Mei-nu, a ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker was quoted as saying.
“If Taiwan can get this passed … it will give other Asian countries a model.”
In 2015, Vietnam became the first country in Asia to lift a ban on same-sex marriages, but the union is not legally recognized anywhere in the country. This means gay marriage is permitted, but spouses have no legal protection.
This article has been amended to reflect that Taiwan is to be the first Asian country to legalize gay marriage. It previously reported that Taiwan is becoming the first Asian country to accept gay marriage.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press