On May 24, the gay, lesbian, and bisexual (LGBT) citizens of Taiwan achieved a major victory when the self-governing island’s highest court, the Judicial Yuan, ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated their right to equality under the Taiwanese constitution.
But the ruling has a broader and deeper significance beyond changing global attitudes towards the LGBT community. It’s also a testament to the robust democracy that the Taiwanese have built in a region that is often lacking in rule of law and pluralistic values.
Rising prosperity and relaxation of political controls have led to improvements on some social and political issues in many East Asian states, but LGBT rights have not moved at the same pace. Only a handful of East Asian countries allow openly LGBT citizens to perform military service, and none allows same-sex couples to adopt. Homosexual relationships remain illegal in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and parts of Indonesia. And, until last week, no government granted any legal status to same-sex relationships.
The Judicial Yuan’s ruling thus represents more than a victory in a local culture war. Rather, it serves as a powerful validation of an idea that until now has struggled to gain traction in East Asia: that an Asian society, acting through its own institutions and drawing on its own traditions, can affirm the basic rights of LGBT citizens and afford same-sex relationships the same dignity before the law as that granted to different-sex unions. Read more via The Diplomat