Taipei: Gay Marriage Legalized in Taiwan, but Challenges Remain for Full Equality

THE SAME-SEX marriage bill cleared its third reading in the legislature today, with most articles from the Executive Yuan’s version of the bill being incorporated into the final bill. This bill passing into law takes place shortly before the May 24th deadline originally set by the Council of Grand Justices two years ago in 2017 that some form of same-sex marriage needed to be legalized by. Taiwan is now the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage.

If the deadline passed with no action by the legislature, same-sex couples would have automatically received the same rights as heterosexual couples, even if this would be uncharted legal territory in the absence of any amendments to the legal code.

With three competing versions of the gay marriage bill discussed this week, marriage equality advocates called for two rallies to take place. The first rally took place on Monday, when cross-caucus consultations regarding the same-sex marriage bill took place. This rally drew approximately 1,500 participants outside of the Legislative Yuan. However, cross-caucus consultations broke down relatively quickly, with KMT legislator Lai Shyh-bao, who proposed the version of the bill often viewed as least favorable to gay marriage in attempting to exclude same-sex couples from the definition of marriage, leaving the session. The second and final rally was called for today, in order to coincide with voting on the bill.

As a result, over 40,000 participants gathered outside of the Legislative Yuan during the voting process. Among participant LGBTQ advocacy groups included parent and family groups, such as Taiwan LGBTQ Family Advocates, Pride Watch, the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline, and others. Speakers included legislators supportive of gay marriage from the DPP and NPP. Sam Yang of indie rock band Fire EX attended, singing a song supportive of gay marriage, as did Taiwanese New Wave filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang, who gave a short speech. A number of indigenous groups also participated, with MCs at the rally at one point leading the crowd in calling for the return of indigenous traditional territories. Third Force parties such as the NPP, SDP, and Taiwan Statebuilding Party gave speeches, as did Sunflower Movement student leader Lin Fei-fan. Read more via New Bloom