Taiwan: mulls third gender option on passports, IDs

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Taiwan is considering whether to introduce a third gender option on its passports and national identity cards in a bid to protect sexual minority groups, an official said Tuesday.

The self-ruled island became a beacon of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Asia after its top court last year ruled in favour of same-sex marriage - the first such ruling in the region. A government spokeswoman said that officials have been studying a proposal to add a third gender category as a way to boost recognition for transgender people, and for those who do not identify as either male or female.

Advocacy groups say although the island’s 23 million people widely embrace LGBT rights, transgender and intersex people often suffer discrimination when it comes to accessing public services or securing jobs.

“Adding a third gender option would show our diversity,” said Olivia Tsai from rights group Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association.

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